The National Convention of Workers jointly called by the ten Central Trade Unions, in association with all independent National Federations of Workers and Employees, of both Industrial and Service sectors viz., Banks, Insurance, Central Government and State Government employees, Defence Production employees etc., expresses serious concern over the deteriorating situation in the national economy due to the pro- corporate, anti-national and anti-people policies pursued by the Central Government, grievously impacting the livelihood of the working people across the country.
This National Convention unanimously condemns in strongest terms the conspiratorial and authoritarian attack of the present Government to deprive the biggest Central Trade Union in the country, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) from all representations in the tripartite and bipartite fora and committees, including the international forum. This is nothing but a severe and heinous onslaught on the rights of the entire trade union movement.
The Convention notes with utter dismay that the Government has been continuing to arrogantly ignore the 12 point Charter of Demands being jointly pursued by the entire trade union movement of the country. Despite numerous nationwide joint strike actions, the most prominent being those of 2 September 2015 and 2 September 2016, participated by crores of workers against the policies of the Governments, the ruling regime at the centre has been increasing its onslaught on the rights and livelihood of the working people of the country. Both the organised as well as unorganised sectors are victims alike.
Unemployment situation is getting aggravated with employment generation practically turned negative even in the most labour intensive sectors. The phenomenon of closure and shut-down of industries and the forecast of huge job-loss in the IT sector is adding fuel to the fire. Price-rise of petroleum products and essential commodities, including public transport, electricity, medicines, etc, is increasing pressure on daily life of the people in general, leading to widening as well as deepening of impoverishment. The implementation of GST has further compounded the hardships. Even essential and lifesaving medicines have been subjected to hefty GST. Drastic cut in Government expenditure in social sector and various welfare schemes has made the condition of workers, particularly those in unorganised sector, more precarious.
The estimates by independent surveys and those sponsored by employers’ organisations revealed loss of 70 lakh jobs because of closure of 2.34 lakh small factory units in the first few months after demonetisation. The livelihood loss of another 6 crore people in informal economy and about 17 lakh job losses in organised sector speaks about the grim ground reality. Faced with such pathetic records, the Government is busy concocting statistics to make fraudulent claims on employment generation. The regular employment survey conducted by the Labour Ministry has been discontinued.
The anti-labour authoritarian character of the government is all the more evident in its refusal to implement even the consensus recommendations (in which the Government was also a party) of the successive Indian Labour Conferences (ILC) in respect of equal pay and benefits for equal work for contract workers, formulation of minimum wage based on the norms agreed by 15th ILC / Supreme Court Judgment and grant of workers’ status for scheme workers, viz., Anganwadi, Mid-Day-Meal, ASHA, MGNREGA and domestic workers etc. Shockingly, the present Government is even refusing to implement the recent judgments of the Supreme Court on the most genuine issue of “equal wage and benefits for equal work” and on EPS, 1995 on contribution and calculation of pension on actual pay and dearness allowance.
In the vast construction sector, which has a huge unorganised workforce, the government is not taking proper action on the ruling of the Supreme Court regarding construction workers cess fund and its utilisation in the interest of the construction workers. Nearly 2.5% of the population of every city are the street vendors. The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulating Street Vending) Act, 2014 has been enacted to protect them, but it is being systematically scuttled.
Despite opposition of all the trade unions in the country, the government has been aggressively pushing through its programme of pro-employer and anti-worker labour law reforms. It has decided to amalgamate 44 hard-earned Central Labour Laws and replace them by four anti-worker, pro-employer Labour Codes to allow the employers to ‘hire and fire’ in the name of ‘Ease of doing Business’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Start Up’, etc. This is going to impose conditions of slavery on the working people. The latest onslaught is the move to evolve a ‘Social Security Code’ by dismantling and demolishing the existing statutory Social Security infrastructure under Employees Provident Fund Organisation, Coal Mines Provident Fund and Employees State Insurance Corporation and many other welfare statutes, abolition of welfare related cess, and usurp the huge social security fund contributed to by the workers, amounting to more than Rs 24 lakh crore and make it available for speculation in share market under the most deceptive and fraudulent camouflage of ‘universalisation of social security’.
The proposed code on Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) is very dangerous move related to Occupational Safety and Health including the welfare of the factory and service sector working class.
Privatisation of all strategic PSUs, including defence production, public sector banks and insurance, railways, public road transport, oil, power, steel, coal, etc. through disinvestment, strategic sale, outsourcing in favour of private sector, promoting 100 per cent FDI in many vital and strategic sectors is increasing day by day. Stripping all the cash rich PSUs of the investible cash reserves is an added assault. The worst and most dubious step of all is the game plan to outsource more than 50 percent products so long being produced by the Ordinance establishments, including weapons and critical equipments,. More than 250 items manufactured by Ordnance Factories have been notified as non-core. Orders are being given to private players for supply of some of these items. Government is determined to close down 5 Ordnance Factories manufacturing items used by our soldiers and officers and this would render thousands of workers jobless, including 1600 female tailors. The move to privatise the defence sector will destroy manufacturing capability and research initiatives developed by the country over last six and half decades.
Step by step, the government is moving to completely privatise the railways. Operating private trains on the existing tracks built by railways is being permitted. Private operators are being offered free access to railway yards, sheds and workshops for maintenance of private coaches, wagons and engines etc. Already 23 railway stations, all in metro cities, have been shortlisted for privatisation. More than 600 Railway Stations along with land around them have been identified for development through private players in the name of “redevelopment of Railway Stations and land around them”. Workers not only in Railways but in all Government and Public Sector Undertakings shall be the worst victims of privatisation in terms of job security, democratic trade union rights and protection of achievements in the areas of pay, perks, social security, etc. Like Central Electricity Regulatory Authority (CERC), a Railway Development Authority (RDA) has been created. Given the sky-rocketing increase in electricity tariff by CERC, under RDA too, railway fare and goods freight are poised to be hiked, hurting the common people and benefiting the private profiteers.
The exposures of various corruptions by the BJP led NDA Government at the centre shows the real face of the ruling clique, the latest being the unearthing of the Rafael deal, which is the biggest scam to date.
Public Sector Banks are under attack through various legislative and executive measures. The ultimate target of the government is privatisation and extending undue favours to the very same private corporate crooks whose default in paying back the loans given to them has put the banking sector in severe difficulties. Instead of addressing the problems of NPA and acting against the corporate defaulters, the government is going ahead with its scheme of merger of banks, which in reality will lead to closure of numerous branches, resulting in job-losses and narrowing of the outreach of the PSU Banks.
NPAs have crossed Rs 13 lakh crore. After Vijay Mallya, now Neerav Modi and Mehul Choksy have also dodged the Indian system and run away after looting Indian people’s money. The government brought the FRDI Bill, which was opposed tooth and nail by the unions, forcing the government to withdraw it. But now the government has come out with the ‘Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code’, which is aimed at allowing corporate defaulters to default on a major part of their debt under the camouflage of so-called “resolution process of insolvency”. Banks will get back hardly 30 per cent of their due loan amount. This is another big scam in the making which would further damage the crises ridden economy.
Attempts are being made by many state governments to dismantle public sector road transport by issuing route-permits to private parties. The central government intends to get the new Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2017 hastily passed in the Parliament, which will allow wholesale privatisation of road transport on the one hand and impose draconian measures on the road transport workers, including those in private sector. The Rajasthan Road Transport Workers Union is spearheading a militant struggle against a precursor of this bill (Road Transport & Safety Bill, 2014) by forging alliance with other trade unions in the sector. This Convention condemns the state governments’ and Central Government’s anti-people and anti-worker moves in the transport sector.
The National Convention of Workers extends full solidarity to the fighting farmers in various states as well as under the Joint National Forums of Peasants’ Organisations, and also the struggle of STs for implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006. It is the same set of pro-corporate, pro-landlord policies which have created a severe crisis in agriculture, biggest livelihood provider in the economy, leading to continuing suicides of farmers in the country.
This National Convention of Workers records its strong denunciation of the communal and divisive machinations in society being carried on with the active patronage of the government machinery. The BJP Governments are using draconian UAPA, NSA as well as the agencies of CBI, NIA, IT to harass and suppress any dissenting opinions. The peace loving secular people in the country are facing a stark situation of terror and insecurity all around. Communal forces are cultivating an atmosphere of conflicts in the society on non-issues. It is disrupting the unity of the workers and the toiling people, so vital to carry forward the ongoing struggles against the anti-people policies of the government. Working class must raise its strong voice of protest.
This anti-people, anti-workers and anti-national policy regime has not only been imposing increasing miseries on the toiling people at large, it is also severely damaging the national economy and destroying its indigenous productive and manufacturing capabilities to serve the interests of the multinational companies with Indian corporates as their junior partner. This anti-people and anti-national policy regime must be defeated squarely to force pro-people changes in policies on all fronts.
For this, the task before the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and independent national federations is to further intensify the surging struggles in various sectors through a concerted united agitation and mobilisation at national level to be followed by countrywide general strike action as a culmination and consolidation of all sectoral struggles. The National Convention of workers therefore adopts the following programmes:
The National Convention calls upon working people across the sectors and throughout the country irrespective of affiliations to make the above programmes a total success.
INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC, and Independent Federations / Associations Of Workers And Employees
12 Point Charter Of Demands
The Most Potent Weapon in the Hands of the Oppressor is the Mind of the Oppressed [Bantu Stephen Biko (18