Profiting from pandemic: State governments in India move to eliminate trade union rights and worker protections

In India, the attack on fundamental rights at the workplace is accelerating under cover of promoting economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 emergency. The state governments of Uttar Pradesh (India’s most populous state), Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra are rolling back or suspending laws to allow for:

  •  increasing working hours from 8 hours to a standard of twelve, without overtime pay:
  • suspension of minimum wage legislation;
  • the removal of restrictions on terminating permanent workers and replacing them with contract workers, with hiring and firing to be at the employer’s ‘convenience’
  • deferring employer contributions to mandatory social security and pension schemes
  • exempting new factories from government labour inspection.

The government of Uttar Pradesh has announced plans to suspend 30 laws and regulations for 3 years, including laws regulating the settlement of industrial disputes, workplace health and safety, the maintenance of facilities including water and sanitation, canteens and crèches, trade union rights and the employment of contract workers

Madhya Pradesh will allow employers to hire contract workers for a longer duration, bypass union recognition and collective bargaining in key industries and release new firms from collective bargaining and dispute settlement mechanisms.

The demolition of hard-won trade union and worker rights and the protections set out in ILO Conventions is unfolding within the national government’s ongoing attacks on the secular basis of Indian democracy. The IUF affirms its full solidarity with our members in India and the wider labour movement struggling to defend fundamental rights against an authoritarian onslaught, and will do all we can to support them.

 

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