- October 3, 2023
Affiliates of FTUC gathered in front of the Indian High Commission Office, Suva, Fiji to observe the ‘Black Day’ on 3rd October, 2023 .
FTUC National Secretary and Members of FTUC denied to enter the Indian High Commission Building by the Security Guards.
The FTUC gathered at the Indian High Commission Office at 11 Butt Street , LICI Building, Suva, Fiji yesterday, Tuesday, 3rd October, 2023 to deliver the petition letter to the Indian High Commissioner but were not allowed to enter the Embassy nor they were willing to receive the petition letter FTUC had prepared to submit. The
FTUC National Secretary, Mr. Felix Anthony reaffirmed the FTUC’s support towards the Indian Union’s, Farmers and workers. Mr. Anthony also added that Indian workers have always stood by FTUC in our difficult times and the Fijian workers stand by them in their difficult times.
He says the FTUC will continue to support workers’ and unions around the world as this is what trade union solidarity is all about.
(Front Left) Sister Mererai Vatege, FTUC Youth Committee Chair and NUW Senior Industrials Officer stands in support our Indian Brothers and Sister’s.
FTUC National Secretary addressing the media on the Call for Action: Global Protest for Indian Farmers, Workers and Trade Unions.
FTUC stands in solidarity for our Indian brothers & sisters on Black Day for Action, 3rd October,2023.
#Global Support #InSolidarity #TogetherWeStandForIndianWorkersRights #FTUC #Fiji #WeDeamndJustice #LakhimpurKheriMassacre #India #ITUC #ITUCAP
The FTUC joins unions worldwide in response to a call by the ITUC and the ITUC AP to the call to action to observe the 3 October as the Black Day in solidarity with the farmers and trade union movement in India. The date marks the second anniversary of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers in 2021.
On 3 October 2021, 4 farmers and 1 journalist were killed, allegedly by the son of the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Ajay Mishra Teni, by running his car into the protesters during the protest against the Minister’s visit in Lakhimpur Kheri. Since September 2020 tens of thousands of farmers had launched marathon protests in New Delhi area to oppose the Modi government’s adoption of 3 agricultural laws which sought to de-regulate the market of agricultural produce regardless of the impact on the livelihood of farmers. Farmers were supported by the trade union movement in India – including the ITUC affiliates – who face their own legal challenges in the shape of the Modi government’s anti-union, anti-worker labour laws.
As a result of the deaths of 750 farmers during the hunger strike in this largest farmers’ protest in India’s history, the 3 agricultural laws were suspended by the courts in January 2021, followed by promises of Prime Minister Modi to repeal the laws and protect farmers’ income and sale of farm production. However, these promises are yet to be fulfilled. The trial of the perpetrator/s of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre has been postponed and justice is yet to come for the families of the victims.
Farmers and unions are planning escalating actions to oppose the anti-farmer, anti-union and anti-worker policies of Prime Minister Modi’s administration in the run up to a crucial general election in 2024, and the ITUC is backing their actions. They have provided a brief on the violations of core labour standards in India which you might find useful.
FTUC has obtained permit to protest outside the Indian Embassy in Suva, Fiji for an hour between 10 to 12 noon today. We will do the following:
- Observe the ‘Black Day’ outside the Indian embassy or high commission in our country to commemorate the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre.
- Hand in the model letterto the Indian ambassador or high commissioner to demand prosecution of the perpetrator/s and abandonment of anti-farmer, anti-union and anti-worker policies.
- Organise a photo solidarity action on social media and conduct media release.
Read here: Brief on violations of core labour standards in India (2023)
Central Trade Unions in India
INTUC AITUC HMS CITU AIUTUC
TUCC SEWA AICCTU LPF UTUC
Labour movement in India is passing through one of its worst ever phase, the present political regime which came to power in 2014 on huge promises to the electorate, which trusted them and brought them to power, the present government at center and some states ruled by the same or similar political dispensation are hand-in-glove with the big domestic corporates, multinational companies, global and regional financial institutions and are working on their advice. Some of government’s anti-workers, anti-farmers, anti-women policies, decisions and actions are mentioned hereunder for your kind notice.
The government which came to power on assurance of inclusive, fearless, corruption free governance, ensuring women safety and protection to all with the slogan “Sab ka Sath, Sab ka Vikas, Sab ka Vishwas” (which means taking everyone along, development for all, winning confidence of everybody) started identifying 29 hard earned central labour laws, subsuming them 4 anti-worker, pro-employers, labour codes namely:-
- a) Labour code on wages
- b) Labour code on industrial relations
- c) Labour code on social security
- d) Labour code on occupational health, safety and working conditions
In the process, the labour friendly provisions of the existing central labour laws were amended, diluted or deleted to facilitate employers in “Hire and Fire” in the name of “Ease of doing business, flexibility or labour reforms etc”. Significant to mention here is the fact that workers representatives were not taken into confidence during pre-drafting or drafting stage. Draft was brought in public domain and to put on record that views from workers representatives were taken, few meetings, for namesake, were organised where central trade unions in one voice opposed the move. The common view of central trade unions was not to scrap the hard earned labour laws; need-based amendments may be brought in particular act, may be discussed in tripartite forum and consensus be obtained, which is the essence of tripartite consultation. But the government paid no heed to unions’ suggestions, brought the bills and ignoring suggestions by opposition leaders, passed the bills in most undemocratic, unparliamentary and unconstitutional way.
We would like to mention some of the anti-workers and pro-employers provisions made under labour codes.
Factories Act 1948 :- In India, Factories Act 1948 (amended from time to time as per need) takes care of working conditions, safety , welfare measures etc.
Factory redefined :- As per existing law, any establishment using power and engaged in manufacturing process (which has also been defined) employing 10 or more workers on any day during proceeding 12 months or an establishment not using power and employing 20 or more would be called “Factory”.
The present threshold has been enhanced to 20 in case of those using power and to 40 for those not using power.
Impact:- the employer, not using power and having less than 40 workers on his muster role or using power and having less than 20 workers on his muster role will be exempted from any liability under the new Labour Code.
The threshold on employed women workers for creches raised from 20 to 50.
Women and children were not allowed to work from 10pm to 6am now women workers are allowed to work in night shift.
No of daily working hours have been enhanced :- from 8 to 10 – 12 (by different states under powers to make rules)
Maximum numbers of hours of overtime in one quarter enhanced form 75 to 125Hrs
Safety and welfare provisions of existing Factories Act have been diluted to a very large extent.
The main attack has been made on inspections. The existing act emphasizes free, frequent, unconditional, surprise inspection of the factory by inspectorate, having power to suggest prosecution if needed.
The labour code on “occupational health safety and working conditions encourages web based inspection, exemption of certain factories, from inspection for certain period of time, inspector will inspect the factory only after receiving a verifiable complaint and with the approval of his / her superiors.
The inspector would provide a chance to rectify the violation which was not there in the Original Act.
A new entity in the name of ‘Facilitator’ has been introduced in the code despite strong joint protests by workers representatives which has created more confusion than solutions.
Provisions of canteen, shelter room, rest room, appropriate Air and Light at workplace, drinking water, reporting of accidents, providing safety tools, regular health examination, occupational hazards and measures to be taken to control or minimize it, measure to control abnormal temperatures at work place etc which were mentioned in detail in existing Factories Act have been diluted to a very large extent in labour code on occupational health, safety and working conditions.
The code which is publicized as the largest universal social security scheme is not at all universal, various categories of workers such as domestic workers, home based workers, self employed workers, agriculture workers, platform workers, digital workers and many more are not covered.
The code is not the product of sincere tripartite discussion and consensus, fragmentation of scope of social security on the basis of the threshold of the size of establishment, number of workers employed, wage limit, categories of workers have narrowed down its scope to a very large extent. It fails to ensure social security for all as envisaged in international labour standards.
Needless to mention that 110th ILC of ILO held in 2022 adopted the resolution on the inclusion of a safe and healthy working environment in the ILO frame work of fundamental principles and right at work. Now the occupational safety and health convention 155 and promotion framework for occupational safety and health convention 2006 (187) have become fundamental conventions. All members states of ILO have obligations to promote OHS as stipulated in both conventions in particular to develop a coherent national OHS policy through tripartite consultations and discussions. The ground reality in India is that post-corona, the employers restarting their establishment with 40 to 50 percent of human resource that they were engaging pre-corona period, workers are offered lower status jobs with 50 – 60 percent wages and have to work long hours in very unsafe, unhealthy, unhygienic, pathetic working environment, with no job security, what to say of social security. Since there is huge gap between demand and supply in the labour market, the worker, in order to make two ends meet for his family, has no other option but to accept the offer. The employers are taking full advantage of the situation.
The objective of the resolution adopted by the ILC of ILO in 2022, was to advice member states to take appropriate, concrete, corrective measures to prevent, eliminate poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion and to ensure universality, non-discrimination, gender equality and responsiveness to social needs, social inclusion of persons in informal economy, respect to rights and dignity of people covered by security guarantees, high quality public services that enhance the delivery of social security systems, respect for collective bargaining and freedom of association for all workers, active tripartite participation with representative organizations of employers and workers.
We would like to mention that India has ratified ILO Convention 144 on Tripartite Consultation, has it’s own tripartite mechanism at apex level in the name of Indian Labour Conference since 1942 but despite consistent joint requests by central trade unions, the present government has not convened any meeting of Indian Labour Conference since 2015.
India has ratified ILO recommendation 204 on “formalisation of informal economy that aims at protecting the rights of informal workers”
Fixed termed employment which encourages precarious work has been introduced by the government.
The government has introduced employment on contract basis, even in one of best armed forces of the world –the Armed Forces of India – for a 4 year term, in the name of “Agnipath” plan, youngsters will be recruited for 4 years which include 6 months training in all wings of Indian Armed Forces; they will be named “Agniveer” on a fixed salary, no other benefit, after completion of 4-year tenure, 25 percent would be absorbed in regular Armed Forces and the rest will be given a farewell with no alternate job security. Agniveer shall not be recognized as “Ex–servicemen” either.
Do such decisions of the government match with the objective of ILO Recommendation 204 on formalization of Informal economy?
Indian Government has corporatized , privatized and sold prominent public sector undertakings to very few private players of it’s choice under “National Monetization Pipeline Project” at throw away prices. These include Rail, Road
Transport, Port and Dock, Coal, Highways, Airways, Airports, Power Generation Transmission, distribution, petro chemical, production and research institutions of Defence, Renewable energy etc.
The threshold of workers for applicability of “Industrial Employment Standing Order Act” has been enhanced from 100 to 300. The act deals with the service conditions of the workers.
- a) The definition of strike has been widened so also the quantum of punishment for participation, instigating workers to join an illegal strike or rendering financial support to an illegal strike have been enhanced.
- b) Notice for strike was mandatory only in public utility service under section 22 of existing Industrial Disputes Act, it has now made mandatory for all industries.
- c) Labour Courts have been done away and industrial tribunal having no power to grant stay order.
- d) The threshold of employed workers for obtaining prior permission for lay off or enclosure from the appropriate government has been raised from existing 100 to 300. It means industries employing less than 300 workers will not be covered.
- e) The provisions of recognition of Trade Unions have been made for the first time in labour code on Industrial Relations once again without meaningful discussions with employees representatives, and ignoring suggestions provided by central trade unions.
- f) The powers to cancel the registration of trade unions by registrar trade union have been enhanced.
- g) The threshold of workers for applicability of Contract Labour Act has been enhanced from 20 to 50.
In existing Payment of Gratuity Act, it is stated that in case of appeal against the order of competent authority by the management, the amount of gratuity computed by him should first be deposited in the court of appellate authority, with receipt thereof attached with the appeal, but in the present rules, there is no such provision.
The term “worker” has been defined under different name, employee under 2 (xx), worker under section 2 (xxxxxxxIII) definitions of organised worker and unorganized workers also add to confusion along with wage worker. There should be just one definition of term worker to provide universal status to social security. The term “Enterprise” should also be defined under labour code on social security.
Essential Defence Services Act, 2021 brought to deprive Civilian employees of defence sector of the right to strike. The civilian defence employees across the nation were jointly opposing the entry of private players in defence sector since long. Despite very clear assurance by the concerned minister in and outside the parliament, the government corporatized 41 production units of defence, employing more than 80,000 employees. The civilian defence employees after getting strike ballot, decided to strike work. The government of India, through an ordinance, which was later made into the above said Act, has deprived the civil employees of defence sector their right to strike.
Although Govt intimated ILO about the validity of the Act only for one year, even after lapse of that one year, the Defence Production establishments under Govt of India, now corporatized, have still been hurdling, blockading and/or denying the right to organise normal trade union agitations by the concerned workers and their unions at the instance of the Govt and the concerned ministry in particular.
Payment of DA for Central Government employees for the period 1.1.2020 to 30.6.2021 was with held on the pretext of corona crisis with an assurance that the same would be paid as soon as normalcy is restored but now the government categorically refused to pay the freezed, dearness allowance to it’s employees.
Huge deficit of mutual trust confidence and social dialogue:- the government is not interested in sharing information involving employees representatives in decision making at all level hence no scope of inclusiveness.
Huge difference in saying and doing of the Indian Government needless to repeat that government of India as a member state is obliged to respect in letter and spirit the International Labour Standards which it commits at all international forums such as providing decent work, decent minimum wage, to eliminate hunger and poverty to provide quality education and health services, uniform social security, decent working conditions, freedom of association, freedom of thoughts and expression, freedom of collective bargaining, encouraging social dialogue at all level to ensure inclusiveness and many more such commitments but the ground reality is that government of India is following policies just contrary to the spirit of it’s “International Obligations” as detailed above.
Not engaging in meaningful dialogue with the central trade unions despite consistent efforts jointly made by them, an appeal made by the then “Director General ILO” Guy Ryder to Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, similar advice was given to him by general secretary International Trade Union Confederation and International Trade Union Confederation Asia Pacific.
Direct Contact Mission
The Committee of Application of Standards of the ILC in 2017 discussed C81 Labour Inspection in India and concluded with sending a Direct Contact mission of the ILO to assess the implementation of convention no 81 in law and in practice.
We recall the government’s members termed the decision as biased, not acceptable to Government of India. The government has up to now not accepted the visit of a Direct Contact Mission.