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Trade unions' war with BJP continues: AITUC to launch 'Oust Modi' campaign

Anurag Dey | Updated on: 4 June 2018, 22:48 IST

The Narendra Modi government has been facing the wrath of workers with trade unions vehemently opposing its moves. The resistance is now all set to intensify with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) announcing launching a nationwide campaign seeking ouster of the BJP led regime at the Centre.

The AITUC’s 40 day campaign beginning August 9, is aimed at exposing the “anti-worker and anti-people” policies of the Modi government and build up a mass movement for the ouster of the BJP regime.

Trade unions have been up in arms against the Modi government which, soon after coming to power in 2014, began initiating reforms in various sector including allowing 100 % FDI, amending industrial and labour laws curtailing workers’ rights.

Besides staging a three-day mass strike against the policies of the central government in November 2017, central trade unions held a protest march in the national capital in March this year.

Central trade unions also observed a one-day strike of all ‘scheme workers’ working under various government schemes in January 2018 demanding minimum wages and social security benefits.

 The BMS which is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-- the ideological fountainhead of the BJP-- has also been vociferous in criticising Modi government’s “anti-worker” stand particularly its labour and industrial policies.

The central trade unions had demanded rollback of the facility of hiring workers on fixed term employment that was extended to all sectors by the Modi led Centre in March. The provision was earlier applicable only in the apparel manufacturing sector. 

BMS president CK Saji Narayanan, who had earlier derided the Modi government as an “extension of the previous Congress-led UPA”, had recently expressed objection to the government’s move to codify and merge labour laws.

Following BMS’ objections, BJP chief Amit Shah held talks with the trade union leaders to assure that changes in labour laws and reforms will be made only after proper consultations with trade unions.

Incidentally BMS which has been accusing the Modi government of undermining tripartite mechanism, also asserted that Shah has assured of “special efforts” to strengthen tripartite mechanism to settle labour issues.

While the BMS is happy about its discussions with the BJP chief, the AITUC is planning to intensify its movement against the Modi regime.


'Modi government is anti-labour, anti-trade union'

“The Modi government doesn’t believe in any dialogue with unions, does not honour bipartite and tripartite mechanisms and considers labour laws and trade unions as hindrance to growth and development.

“For this government, “ease of doing businesses”, is meant only to curtail workers’ rights, which is being pursued by changing labour laws. The claim is simplification, but the motive is to make it punitive for workforce and its unions and providing liberty of hire and fire to employers with no accountability,” said AITUC General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur

Imminent strike against commercial mining of coal

The AITUC also said a strike in the coal sector was imminent in protest against opening up of commercial coal mining for private sector.

“The AITUC is in talks with other central trade unions over the issue. The scope of discussion has also been left open for the BMS which has expressed its willingness to join our action. The government has not bothered to listen our repeated pleas and now there is no other way but to go for strike action. A massive strike in the coal sector is now imminent,” said AITUC President Ramendra Kumar.

He said the strike call may be given early July.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Modi in February cleared the opening up of commercial coal mining for Indian and foreign companies in the private sector.

While the government described the move as the “most ambitious reform of the sector since its nationalisation in 1973”, trade unions have been vehemently opposing it.

The central trade unions had called for a day-long strike on 16 April against the move, but was deferred following “lack of cohesion” between the unions.

 The BMS has been opposed to the privatisation of the coal mining sector but refused to be a part of the 16 April strike.

 It said it was willing to hold discussions with other trade unions over the issue and take a call on the strike action only after that.

Economy at corporates’ mercy

Flaying the Modi government’s policies, the AITUC said the Indian economy was being handed over to corporates and MNCs.

“Tacit support is being extended to communal outfits in spreading hatred and communal poison to divide the society and to distract people’s attention from real issues of livelihood, education, health, shelter and social security, etc.,” it said.

Citing Labour Bureau figures, the central trade union said the 25 % percent of country’s population between the age of 10-29 years will experience unemployment rate of 34 % by 2022.

“Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has put unemployment rate in urban areas at 8.2 %. In another report, India topped with 8.8 % unemployment rate among south Asian nations,” said the trade union.

First published: 4 June 2018, 22:48 IST