RSS-backed BMS to stay away from trade union protests against Modi govt
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's labour wing, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), is in a fix. While it has been vociferous in criticising the Narendra Modi government’s “anti-labour” policies, it will not be joining central trade unions’ (CTUs) protest on March 15. The reason it has given is that it “doesn't want to play politics”.
The protest by joint platform of 10 CTU’s including Congress’ INTUC and Communist Party of India (Marxist) affiliated CITU, is against the Modi government’s “intensified attack on the lives and livelihood of the people and seriously compromising the national interest”.
The CTUs have accused the Centre of dismantling labour laws with an aim to “completely casualise employment conditions through various routes like amending Contract Labour Act, introducing Fixed Term Employment etc”.
“The government is out to erase the public sector from the industrial map of the country. Specific cases such as the proposal to privatise of railways, opening coal mining to private and foreign companies without any restriction whatsoever, mass scale privatisation as well as destruction of defence production network through widespread outsourcing, thereby dismantling the almost half of the ordinance factories are some of the examples of the gross anti-people and anti-national actions of the government.
“Accumulation of huge non-performing assets of the public sector banks arising out of pilferage of bank-funds by deliberately defaulting private corporate coupled with recent explosion of frauds with bank fund engineered by the same corporate class is also a reflection of the anti-national act of the government indulging and patronising the same big-business class,” the CTUs said in a statement.
“The workers and federations of coal and transport have been preparing for united industry-wide actions to be undertaken shortly. All the Federations of Defence Production workers have jointly decided to go in for nationwide strike on 15 March 2018. Many more sectoral actions are in the offing,” it added.
The unions also condemned the Union Budget calling it “anti-worker and anti-people in character and engineered a deception on the mass of the people through loud populist slogans without actually making any resource allocation”.
While the BMS too has been levelling similar charges against the Modi government and recently held nationwide agitation over ‘anti-labour’ Budget, it has preferred to stay away from the CTU’s March 15 stir.
“They have our blessings but we are not joining them. We too want all the trade unions to collectively raise the demands of the workers but then that should not be guided by political considerations. We don’t want to do politics. If they wanted us, they could have asked us to join. But they did not. We are here for the welfare of workers and not to do politics,” said BMS President C K Saji Narayanan.
The BMS has been attacking the Modi government over its economic and labour policies and had dubbed it to be an extension of the Congress-led UPA.
Narayan said the BMS will be staging protests separately.
“We have been raising our voices against this government and we will continue to do so. This government has been been insensitive to the demands of the workers and that is reflected in the union budget.
“This is perhaps for the first time in India’s history that the Budget speech had no mention of either labour or workers. If this government thinks they can get away by undermining the labour sector's interests, then they are mistaken,” asserted Narayanan.
He said the BMS is in talks with MPs across the country for raising labour issues inside parliament.
“We are intensifying our labour movement outside parliament through massive mass movement. The fact that the government has postponed the Indian Labour Conference is sign of its wilting under pressure. We will not rest until the workers’ demands are met,” he said.
Amid boycott calls by the BMS, the Indian Labour Conference starting on February 26 and to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Scheduled for February 26-27, the 47th Indian Labour Conference (ILC) was indefinitely postponed by the government amid boycott call by the BMS. It is the highest tripartite forum of trade unions, employers and state and central governments to discuss the issues of workers in the country.
Barring the BMS, rest of the trade unions flayed the government for “reducing tripartism to a mockery” by postponing the ILC.
The BMS had not joined the CTU’s last year three-day protests in November in the national capital to press for their 12-point charter of demands including minimum wage and social security.
It subsequently held a massive public rally In November last year in Delhi to protest the “failed promises of the Modi government”. The rally was organised over the prevailing economic distress in the country.
CITU general secretary Tapan Sen flayed the BMS for being pro-government.
“Is this is a marriage ceremony that we would be sending out invites? BMS was a part of the joint platform of the CTUs and were a signatory to the 12 point charter of demands. But it preferred to desert it. When the trade unions have been agitating against the anti-labour policies of the government, the BMS prefers to praise it. So why this question now of getting invited,” asked Sen.
The 10 unions participating in the protests are Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) and the Labour Progressive Federation (LPF).