The dignity, the wellbeing of the labour, the need for safeguarding and protecting them has been enshrined in our Indian Constitution vide Articles 16, 19, 23 and 24 and also Chapters IV (Articles 19, 41, 42, 43, 43A and 54). These are in resonance with the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy.
In spite of laws which protect the essence of labour unionism in our country, these articles now hold no ground in the three BJP ruled states in India. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat are in the process of enacting an ordinance which seeks to demolish the existing labour laws and is keen on increasing the working hours of workers in order to enhance their economic productivity. This move is spiritually against the socialistic principles which are enshrined by our Constitution.
Trade Unionism is not a new thing in India. India has had a strong labour movement since the days of the British Raj and has created successful labour movements in the country under the leadership of great stalwarts like Singaravelu Chetty and SA Dange.
These movements, in turn, had coerced the British to enact stronger labour laws which seek to protect the interests of the labour force in the country. It is a known fact that Dr.BR Ambedkar’s fight was not only against the caste system but also against the unequal class system.
He laid the foundation for the workers’ rights and social security in India. It was Ambedkar who advocated for living wages, decent working conditions and the emancipation of poor peasants from evil landlords and imperialists industrialists.
In fact, the first political organization he formed was the Independent Labour Party in 1936 through which he advocated for the rights of landless poor peasants, workers and agriculturalists and also opposed the Capitalist structures present in our country during that time.
The Mines Maternity Amendment Bill which was passed in 1943 was historic because it established the equal pay for equal work irrespective of sex and remains one of his notable contributions to the labour movement of our country.
The passing of these laws also paved the way for further more bills and acts which advocated and protected the rights of the interests of the labour movements in India. Most notable among them was the Factories Act of 1948 which stated that an adult cannot work for more than 48 hours a week.
Such was the contribution and activism of prominent trade union leaders that had led to a safeguard of labour laws in our country. But the recent approval of the ordinance by the UP government seems like an act of stimulating slavery.
It takes our country back to 100 years and is a very regressive move. It is a clear violation of human rights and the fundamental rights of the labour force. Their decision of raising the working hours by 4 hours and up to 72 hours a week deserves strong condemnation.
The explanation from the government also doesn’t seem satisfactory as they claim to provide employment to workers who have migrated back to the state and to protect the existing employment needs of the state. And for this to happen flexibility in terms of working hours and productivity is the need of the hour.
There has been severe criticism to this move from all quarters and the vanguard of the labour movement in our country i.e. both the mainstream Communist Parties have decided to appeal legally against this draconian measure which seeks to curb the working rights of the workers.
Let’s not forget that the present labour laws were achieved through tides of class struggle and continuous labour movements which advocated for worker rights in the present. By replacing the laws with such ordinances, it only ensures the victory for the capitalists who have absolute disregard for such strong labour laws.
It is very evident that the country is going through an economic crisis and the further arrival of a pandemic has worsened the situation. We have all witnessed the inability of the administration to protect its working-class and are struggling to find ways to accommodate the workforce of our country in helping them reach their natives.
There have already been reports of migrant workers expressing their displeasure and some are not keen on returning back to their places of employment. Thus, with such ordinances being mulled in other states, it is only a crisis in making to the already crippling economic situation of our country.
Therefore, a question remains how such labour laws exemptions will better the economic productivity when the rights of the workers are taken away? In fact, there are going to be no more minimum wage protection, no workplace safety norms, no unions/collective organizations and absolutely no right to leisure.
This is nothing but slavery and people who are in favour of such proposal are in a way rooting for slavery to flourish. It is indeed the need of the hour to ensure that labour laws are best kept undisturbed.
It is also the duty of the administration to ensure incentives and concessions and also making sure that their rights and safeguards are not violated in any manner. The laws have a unique history of mass movements and repealing them is a disregard to the entire trade union movements of our country.
The author of the article is a student of Tata Institue of Social Sciences, Mumbai. The views by him are personal. онлайн займ по паспортузайм на киви кошелек без привязки картызайм на киви 1000 рублей експресс займзайм с автоматическим одобрениемзайм онлайн только по паспорту