The Uttar Pradesh government has approved an ordinance exempting all establishments, factories, and businesses from the purview of most labour laws for over three years. Laws that would no longer apply include the Minimum Wages Act, Trade Unions Act, Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour Act, Payment of Bonus Act, Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, Working Journalists Act, Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act. This ordinance is now pending approval of the central government. In Madhya Pradesh, all provisions, except Section 25 of the Industrial Disputes Act, have been relaxed, working hour has been extended to 12 hours a day, establishments employing less than 50 workers have been excluded from inspection under various labour laws, In industries with less than 100 labourers, exemptions have been given from provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Employment (Permanent Order) Act, fixed term employment has been approved, a provision has been made to maintain a single register instead of various registers under labour laws and to file a single return instead of 13 now, under the Factory Act, exemption has been given to factories from inspection for a period of three months. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani has declared that Gujarat is planning to exempt new projects from provisions of labour laws if the unit will work for at least 1,200 days.
Maharashtra has made exemption of section 51, 52, 54, 56 of Factories Act and has allowed extension of working hour upto12 hours a day. Assam government has allowed introduction of fixed term employment in industries, increase in minimum number of workers for implementation of the Factories Act from 10 to 20 (factories run with power) and 20 to 40 (without power). It also has approved increase in minimum number of workers for implementation of Contract Labour Act from 20 to 50 and increase in shift hours from 8 to 12 hours.
Other states like Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh has also amended the Factories Act since last month and raised the working hours from 8 to 12 hours per day. These changes are nothing but a ploy to transfer the cost and crisis of the pandemic to the working class, preserving the interests and profits of the capitalists and exploiting the corona crisis for fast track implementation of anti-worker labour law reforms, even bypassing the parliament. This will increase job loss, abolish job security, dilute industrial safety and increase industrial accidents and throw a huge majority of workforce out of any legal safety net, and effectively bring back the practice of bonded labour in production. This will push back the gains of working-class struggle for basic rights and dignified job by a hundred years.
Already the Indian working class is suffering from the corona crisis – job loss, salary cut, crisis of ration, shelter and other facilities, despite the evident fact that they build the wealth of nation. Particularly the crisis of migrant workers and unorganized workers has been severe. In this context, these measures will increase the precarious condition of workers by manifold. MASA demands immediate withdrawal of all ordinances/orders by different state governments that allow anti-workers measures in pretext of COVID-19 crisis.
MASA demands from the central government and all state governments immediate measure for the protection of workers’ rights and interests in this hour of crisis – secure jobs and full salary for all, universal health and social security, legislation for migrant workers’ rights and facilitation of their going back home free of cost, strong measures for industrial safety etc. We vow to fight for these rights of the workers and call upon all workers, all toiling masses and all democratic sections of society to rise up and fight for these rights. At present we will fight through the courts and virtually by all means possible. As soon as it is responsibly possible, we will move this struggle to the streets.
(Statement issued by MASA, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan) n
Let us intensify Protests, opposition to the CAA, NPR/NRC!
Let us make the 8th January all India hartal call a Bharat Bandh, for workers’ rights, jobs and livelihood, against sky-rocketing prices and rates of essential commodities and services, and against ever-intensifying state terror and fascistization!
The Citizenship Amendment Act has triggered protests across the country after it was passed in Parliament on December 11. At least 26 people have died in the protests, including 19 in UP itself. The legislation provides Indian citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, except Muslims, who have entered the country on or before December 31, 2014. But it is silent on the nearly one lakh refugees from Sri Lanka who are leading a miserable ife for three decades or about the Rohingyan refugees fleeing from torture in Myanmar, or refugees from Nepal. The law has attracted widespread criticism as it makes citizenship religion based. The non-BJP-ruled states have refused to implement it. Even allies of the BJP such as the JD (U) have also expressed reservations about it. Tens of millions of people are coming out in the streets, with the students and youth playing the vanguard role, challenging it, fighting for the secular democratic values.
But Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that even if all other parties come together to oppose the CAA, the BJP-led government will “not move back even an inch”. He accused Opposition parties of spreading misinformation, and said they could continue to do so, but the Act would not be repealed. According to Shah, the government is forced to organise outreach rallies in favour of the CAA because the agitators have been spreading misinformation about it. Like Modi, Shah is also repeating false sories that there has been no greater violation of human rights than the one against refugees who the Act grants citizenship. He said that the refugees, who were once millionaires, now have no place to live. Shah added that the refugees once had a lot of land, but now they have nothing to eat. But he is silent about the fate of the vast majority of the Hindus who are already living in this country from the time of their birth! Modi govt have resorted to unprecedented state terror, especially in UP and Delhi, to terrorize the agitators, especially Muslims, to create fear psychosis, to spread the calumny that only Muslims oppose it. Though the RSS parivar spread lies after lies using the captive media about the CAA, NPR/NRC. But by now the picture is clear: the three are integrally linked; Already Karnataka government has started the NPR to find out the ‘doubtful citizens’ from 1st January; all other states are asked to make preparations and to start it from 1st April. Then based on the number of doubtful citizens found out by the NPR, the NRC shall be started as it was done I Assam, using CAA as the criteria and demanding documents including birth certificates from all. Thus not only Muslims, but as happened in Assam, large numbers of Hindus also will be among the crores of stateless people! They will be thrown to Detention Camps, the construction of which are already started.
Along with this the attacks on the working class, all toiling masses, peasantry and youth and students are reaching unprecedented levels in various forms, especially in the context of galloping recession; prices of all essential commodities and rates of essential services are sky-rocketing further impoverishing the masses. Coupled with this, the CAA, NPR/NRC and the fascist attacks on those who oppose these have created a dangerous situation. It calls for all out resistance from our part.
So, uniting all these struggles, let us make the 8th January all India hartal a Bharat Bandh uniting with all the forcs who are in the field of struggle. The present situation demands that all the struggling forces should join the ongoing great countrywide upsurge, making it stronger day by day, with the determination to intensify it continuously as a protracted people’s movement to compel the Modi government to reverse its draconian policies.
K N Ramachandran
CPI (ML) Redstar
4th January 2020