Modi Government is hell bent on amending several labour laws in order to make the workers and employees bonded labor. It is resorting to large scale disinvestment of Public Sector Undertakings, allowing private sector in Coal mines, railways etc. in a big way. It is allowing FDI in large scale in several strategic sectors including Railway, Defense, Insurance and pension. Its policies are threatening the security of the EPF and Pension of the employees and workers. It issued ordinance 3 times for handing over the lands of the peasants, without their consent, to the Indian and foreign corporates and due to severe opposition, it is now trying to handover this job to the States. It is campaigning that the Foreign and Indian investors will invest only if such “reforms” (anti people measures) are carried out in a big way and according to it, this is the only path for developing the country! On the one hand, it is showering lakhs of crores of rupees tax concessions on the Indian and foreign big capitalists and on the other hand, it is imposing severe cuts in budget allotments for the welfare of the people. It is development at the cost of the people. But how any country can develop by taking away the rights and benefits of its working class and its peasants?
Modi Government came to power assuring the people to bring back the humongous amounts of black money stashed in foreign countries and use it for the benefit of the people. But it is not doing anything on this. The “SIT” appointed by the Supreme Court recommended to stop the flow of P-Notes (Participatory Notes-money invested in stock market without revealing the name of the owner) into our stock market, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has told that the Government was in no hurry to do this! BJP came to power campaigning against the corruption of UPA and assuring the people that their Government would be corruption free. But one year after their coming to power, several severe charges of irregularities and corruption have come out against their ministers at the center and in states. To divert the attention of the people from such misrule, efforts are being made to polarize the people on religion basis, provoking communalism.
Unless this severe attack is resisted, the working class and the people will lose all their existing rights and benefits and will face dark future.
Hence all the Central Trade Unions, All India Federations of Central Government employees, State Government employees, railways, banks, insurance, telecom and industrial and service sectors have organized the National Convention of Workers at Delhi on 26.5.2015 decided to fight against these policies and given the call for nationwide general strike on 2.9.2015 by workers and employees in all sectors. The strike call was given on 12 demands which are applicable to all sections of the employees and workers.
These 12 demands and their relevance to BSNL employees are detailed below:
1.Withdraw the amendments/proposed amendments to the labor laws aimed at curtailing the rights of the workers and enslaving them.
a) Code on industrial relations proposed for making it impossible to go on strike and to form a trade union, and for empowering the managements to retrench the workers as per their will and pleasure, thus enslaving the workers and employees:
Modi Government has proposed to combine the Industrial Disputes Act, The Trade Unions Act and the Standing Orders into a single Code on Industrial Relations.
As per this code, instead of the present 14/21 days, six weeks’ notice has to be given for strike. The conciliation by labour department should be deemed as started on serving the wstrike notice, even if the labour commissioner has not yet called for holding such conciliation. Strike should start from a date one week after the declaration of completion of conciliation by the labour commissioner. If the strike takes place before this, it will be illegal and the participant can be imposed Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 fine or one month jail. The organizers of such strike can be sent to jail. Therefore strike cannot take place unless and until the labor commissioner declares failure of his conciliation. If the labor commissioner goes on prolonging the conciliation even though it is of no use, strike cannot take place. Thus this is nothing but making strikes impossible.
As per this code, the registrar can agree for registering a trade union or reject it. No outsider should be an Office bearer in a trade union in organized sector (at present one third can be outsiders) and only two are allowed in unorganized sector. This will make the formation of a new trade union very difficult.
The code proposes to empower managements to retrench the workers in the establishments having less than 300 workers, without taking permission of the Government. It further says that whether the permission of the Government is required to close or retrench the workers in factories having more than 300 workers has to be decided by the concerned state governments. State Governments are competing with each other in removing the rights of the workers in the name of facilitating investments and hence such a provision will result in empowering managements to retrench workers without government permission even in factories/establishments with more than 300 workers.
If this code is enacted by the Parliament, the workers including BSNL employees, will lose all their right to strike and right to job protection and right to form trade union and will become bonded laborers.
(a) Code on Wages proposed for abolishing the supervising machinery for implementing the payment of wages act, for allowing different wages for same work and for allowing discrimination in promotions:
A code on wages is proposed by combining the Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wage Act, Bonus Act and the Equal Remuneration Act. It proposes to abolish the system of Inspectors inspecting payment of wages by making such inspection not compulsory. It allows all inequalities in wages for the same work except the inequality based on gender and allows discrimination in promotions. If such a c ode is enacted by the parliament, there will be no machinery for ensuring proper and timely payment of wages and there will be different wages for the same work in the same establishment including BSNL. It will lead to severe discrimination in appointments and promotions.
(b) Proposed changes in Standing Orders to allow Fixed Term Employment:
It is proposed to change the rules under the Standing Orders to allow employment for a fixed term, 6 months, one year etc. They can be terminated without any notice on the expiry of the term. Since their tenure is fixed, they will always be facing job insecurity and will not be in a position to fight for their rights. It will further divide the workers into permanent employees, contract workers, fixed term workers etc. making the unity of workers difficult. It will enable the managements to appoint the workers based on fixed term, thereby reducing permanent employment. It is to be noted that the Deloitte Consultant has recommended for off role employment in BSNL, which means they will not be in the rolls of BSNL, but will work in BSNL!
(c) One part of the attack on EPF-Diversion of EPF funds to stock market:
Modi Government has decided to invest EPF funds in stock market. Due to the pressure of the Government, the representatives of the Labour Ministry in the EPF Board have agreed along with the representatives of the managements for diverting a part of the EPF funds for investment in stock market. Since only the representatives of the Trade Unions in the EPF Board opposed it, this was approved as a majority decision in the Board. The total fund available with EPFO (Employees Provident Fund Organisation) is Rs 8, 25,000 crore. In this, it was decided to invest Rs 5000 crore in this financial year 2015-16 and to gradually increase it. There will be tremendous pressure from the international finance to go for large scale investment of EPF funds in stock market. The fund invested in stock market is nothing but a fund invested in gambling and there will be no guarantee for its security. That is why, so far, the EPF funds are invested in the Government securities and hence they were secure. But now that Modi Government started investing EPF in stock market, the EPF of employees including the EPF of BSNL recruitees, and Casual mazdoors, TSMs and contract workers will face insecurity.
(d) Another part of the attack on EPF-Diverting employees from the secure EPF to the insecure New Pension Scheme:
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed in the budget 2015-16 for providing an option to the employees to exit from the EPF and opt for the new contributory pension scheme under the PFRDA Act (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act) instead of EPF. Accordingly, the Government has already proposed an amendment in the EPF Act. The funds to which the employee pays for pension contribution in this New Pension Scheme under PFRDA are more insecure than the EPF. Thus a severe attack is started on EPF security by the Modi Government. This threat is equally applicable to the EPF of BSNL recruited employees and TSM/Casual Mazdoor/Contract worker in BSNL. The reason for this diversion of EPF funds to stock markets and pension funds is the decision of the Modi Government for allowing 49% FDI in pension sector and the consequent efforts to mobilize funds for the foreign and Indian pension fund companies. Due to this, the threat to EPF and pension is increasing.
(e) Attack on ESI-Proposed Diversion of employees from the beneficial ESI to the less beneficial health Insurance:
The Government also proposed an amendment to ESI Act to allow employees to opt for health insurance instead of ESI. Under ESI, treatment is available to the employee and his family. But in the case of health insurance, the insurance is available to the insurer only, and only to the extent of the insured amount. The intention is to help the foreign and Indian private insurance companies since Modi Government allowed 49% FDI limit in insurance. Thus the ESI facility available to most of the employees including the Casual Mazdoor and contract workers in BSNL is under threat.
(f) Modi Government already amended two labour laws against workers:
Besides the above proposed changes for enslaving the working class, the Modi Government, with the help of the Congress and some non-left parties, has already amended two labour laws against the workers.
It amended the Apprentices Act enabling the managements to recruit more number of apprentices so that instead of regular workers or contract workers, the work can be got done by the Apprentices with less pay. It amended the Labour laws(Submission of Returns and Maintenance of Registers) Act exempting the managements of the establishments with less than 40 number of workers from submitting returns and maintenance of registers regarding implementation of 16 labour laws. This is nothing but making it easy for the managements of 72% of the factories in the country to violate labour laws.
(g) Rajasthan Government took the lead and several state government following :
In Rajasthan, the Vasundhara Raje (BJP) Government took the lead in amending labour laws against the workers. The Modi Government at the Centre advised the State Governments to follow this Rajasthan model in amending labour laws against the workers. Accordingly, the Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Andhrapradesh State Governments have already amended labour laws against the workers.
Since the enacted/proposed amendments are aimed at enslaving the working class and attacking the security of EPF, ESI and pension, it is demanded to withdraw all such amendments to the labor laws.
2. Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punishment for violation of labour laws
After the initiation of the LPG policies by the P.V.Narasimharao Government in 1991, the labour department is gradually shirking away from its responsibility for implementation of factories. The labour inspectors reduced their inspections of the factories. The inspections rate was 75.64% in 1991 and it fell down to a mere 17.88% in 2008. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on labour has reported that due to lack of sufficient number of staff, the Labour Department was unable to properly enforce the implementation of labour laws by the managements. But neither the previous UPA Government nor the present NDA Government cared for this. As a result, the violation of labour laws by the managements has become rampant.
At present, at least 60% of the workers in the organized sector are deprived of minimum wages, EPF, ESI and other such benefits. In BSNL, in several cases, the TSM, Contract workers and casual labour were denied the benefits that should be available to them as per the labour laws. In several industrial units, the workers are compelled to work for 10 or 12 hours a day without any OTA. Several industrial units are being closed by the managements illegally. But the Centraal and State Governments are not caring for such violations and helping the managements.
Due to this severe violation of labour laws and the consequent deprivation of the wages and other benefits of the workers, the share of the wages in the net value added in production in the manufacturing sector has declined from 30.28% in 1981-82 to 12.16% in 2010-11. During the same period, the share of the profit of the owners has increased from 20% to 50%. It is also to be noted that during this same period, the labour productivity has increased 5 fold.
The entire working class is demanding that the Governments should strictly enforce the implementation of labour laws for ensuring their benefits to the workers and should impose stringent punishments on the managements for violating labour laws.
3. Stop disinvestment and privatization in Central/State PSUs
The disinvestment of PSUs was started in 1991 by P.V.Narasimharao Government as part of the LPG policies. But no Government has resorted to such a large scale disinvestment like the present Modi Government, as detailed below:
Amount obtained by disinvestment of PSUs, by various Governments
1991-92 to 1997-98 (Congress, UF) ------Rs 11242.50 crores
1998-99 to 2003-04(Vajpayee Government)----Rs 33655.59 crores
2004-05 to 2008-09 (UPA-1 with Left Parties support)----Rs 8515.94 crores
2009-10 to 2013-14 (UPA-2 without Left Support)---Rs 99,367.93 crores.
2014-15(First year of Modi Government)---Rs 24328.93 crores.
The above facts reveal that disinvestment is almost stopped when the Left Parties were having considerable strength in the Parliament and the survival of the Government was depending on their support.
In 2014-15 itself, in its first year, Modi Government obtained a huge amount of Rs 24328.93 crores. It is the largest amount got in a single year by any Government by disinvestment of PSUs. This amount was got by selling the shares in the two Maharatna PSUs—Coal India and SAIL.
In this financial year 2015-16, the Modi Government has fixed a huge disinvestment target of Rs 69,500 crores. For this, it already approved selling of 5% to 15% shares in the PSUs OIL, CCIL, NMDC, MMTC, ITDC, NTPC, EIL, BEL, NALCO, HCL (Hindustan Copper Limited), in addition to the shares sold earlier in these PSUs. Among these PSUs, NTPC is Maharatna and BEL, OIL, NMDC, NALCO, EIL and CCIL are Navaratna PSUs. By thus selling 5 or 10% shares every year, the PSUs will be gradually privatized.
Not only this. The Modi Government is planning to resort to strategic sale of PSUs as done by the earlier Vajpayee Government. It is to be noted that the Vajpayee Government has privatized BALCO, Hindustan Zinc, and Two Centaur Hotels under Hotel Corporation of India, 18 Hotels under ITDC, Jessop, Lagan Jute Machinery, Maruti Suzuki, Modern Food Industries, VSNL, HTL, CMC, and Paradeep Phosphates by such strategic sale. In this strategic sale, the management of the PSU will be handed over to the private Company that will purchase a minority or majority stake in it and thus it will be a direct privatization.
Modi Government has no intention of reviving BSNL from losses. Its intention is to divide it and sell it. It has already approved the separation of the towers from BSNL to form a subsidiary tower company. The intention is to allow a private partner in the tower company.
Modi Government has amended the Coal Mines Act with the support of the Congress for allowing private companies in commercial coal mines. The Bibek Debroy Committee appointed by the Modi Government has recommended for allowing private companies in constructing railway tracks and in running the trains etc. Thus it is resorting to privatization in large scale.
Why this large scale disinvestment of PSUs? It is for filling up the budget deficit that is arising every year due to the huge annual concession of more than Rs 5 lakh crore rupees to the Corporates. Thus selling PSU shares is due to the unwarranted and unjustified concessions given to the Corporates. Public property is thus being sold by the Modi Government for the profit of the Corporates.
The working class is demanding to stop disinvestment and privatization of PSUs and to revive the loss making/sick PSUs like BSNL, ITI, and MTNL etc.
4. Remove all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund; increase the quantum of gratuity
(a) Bonus Act: As per the Bonus Act, the workers drawing more than Rs 10,000/- wage (pay+DA) are not eligible for bonus (In BSNL, when there was profit, all were paid bonus since it was under a productivity linked incentive scheme). The calculation of bonus under bonus act has imposed a ceiling of Rs 3500/- per month as wage for calculation. There is another ceiling limit of 20% of the annual wage as the maximum limit on bonus payment even if the Company is getting adequate profit. The working class has been demanding to remove all these 3 ceiling limits on bonus payment. In the 46th Indian Labour Conference held on 20,21 July 2015, all the trade unions have demanded to grant bonus even in loss making PSUs(like BSNl) and in private companies when the performance standard is fulfilled.
(b) EPF Act: EPF Act is applicable to BSNL recruitees and to TSM, Casual Mazdoor and Contract workers in BSNL. Under EPF Act, the employee has to contribute 12% of his actual wage (pay + DA), even if the wage exceeds Rs 15,000/- ceiling limit. But the management has to compulsorily contribute 13.61% to the employees EPF Account calculating it on the actual wage of the employee, subject to a ceiling limit of Rs 15,000/- wage. If the employee’s wage is more than Rs 15,000/- it is up to the management to calculate its contribution on the portion of the wage exceeding the Rs 15,000/- ceiling. Thus, if the wage of an employee is Rs 25,000/-, the management has to compulsorily contribute its share calculating it on the wage ceiling limit of Rs 15,000/-. If the management wants, it can calculate its contribution on the remaining Rs 10,000/- wage also.
In BSNL as well as in several PSUs, the managements are calculating their EPF contribution based on the actual wage of the employee, without limiting it to the Rs 15,000/- ceiling. But the Supreme Court has clarified that the management can limit its contribution calculation to the ceiling limit of Rs 15000/- wage in case of financial difficulties to the Company. Therefore this Rs 15000/- wage ceiling limit for calculation of the management’s contribution to EPF will be a threat to BSNL employees also.
The working class is demanding to abolish this ceiling limit of Rs 15000/- wage for calculating management’s contribution to EPF.
(c) DCRG: The ceiling limit for payment of DCRG (Death Cum Retirement Gratuity) was enhanced from Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs due to the struggles of the trade union movement. But for several retirees were eligible for more than this Rs 10 lakh as per calculation. Also, the ceiling limit of 16.5 months wages on DCRG is depriving the beneficiaries their actual amount due as per their service. It is therefore demanded to abolish these two ceilings on DCRG.
5. Assured pension to all employees and workers and minimum pension should be not less than Rs 3000/-
(a) At present Government is paying pension to the Central and State Government employees appointed before 1.1.2004 (except in Bengal and Tripura where all government employees including those recruited after 1.1.2004 are being paid pension by concerned state governments due to the decision of the Left Front Governments in those States to continue government pension for all government employees. In Kerala, the UDF Government decided to implement new pension scheme for government employees recruited from 1.4.2013 onwards). In the case of Central Government employees appointed w.e.f 1.4.2003 and the State Government employees appointed w.e.f 1.4.2004 or at a later date (except Bengal and Tripura), the Government will not pay pension. New Pension Scheme is being implemented for them. In this scheme, the employee will pay 10% of his salary (Pay+DA) as pension contribution to a pension fund company and Government also will contribute same amount to the pension fund company. Whether the employee will get pension or not on his retirement and how much he will get is all depending on the profit or loss of the Pension Fund Company. Thus there is no pension security for these employees, even though every month they have to contribute 10% pension contribution. These Pension Fund Companies are under the purview of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) created by PFRDA Act.
(b) There is a provision in the PFRDA Act (passed by Congress and BJP in the Parliament) enabling the Government to transfer all the Government pensioners to this new pension scheme whenever the Government decides so. Thus the PFRDA Act is threatening the pension security of Government pensioners including those absorbed in BSNL. In addition, the 60:40 order on Government’s liability for pension expenditure in the case of BSNL absorbed employees and the absence of a provision for their pension revision along with wage revision are creating difficulties.
(c) At present, the workers of several establishments in private and public sectors, including the BSNL recruitees and the TSM/Casual Mazdoor/Contract workers in BSNL are eligible for pension under EPS (Employees’ Pension Scheme) under EPF. But in several cases, the amount of pension under this scheme was less than Rs 1000/-. Due to the struggles of the working Class, the minimum amount of this EPS was raised to Rs 1000/-.
(d) In September 2013, a Parliamentary Committee has recommended that the minimum pension under EPS be enhanced from Rs 1000/- to Rs 3000/-by increasing the contribution of the Government to EPS from 1.16% of the basic pay to 8.33%. But neither the previous UPA Government nor the present NDA Government have agreed for this.
(e) As per the DPE guidelines, the management has to contribute 30% of the basic pay of the BSNL recruited employee. But the management is contributing 18% only. Hence it is demanded that the remaining 12% be contributed by the Management to a secure pension fund like LIC so that they will get pension based on that. But BSNL management is agreeing to contribute 3% more only, in the name of financial difficulties.
(f) The demand of the trade unions is that (a) there should be an assured pension available to all workers in organized and unorganized sector including the BSNL contract workers, (b) the minimum pension under any scheme should not be less than Rs 3000/- (c) the Central and State Government employees appointed after 1.1.2004 also should be made eligible for Government pension by abolishing the new pension scheme, (d) the Government Pension Scheme be ensured by cancelling the PFRDA Act (e) the above said difficulties in the case pension of BSNL absorbed employees be removed, (f) the TSM and Casual Mazdoor in BSNL be made eligible for Government pension and (g) for the BSNL recruitees as well as for other PSU employees, a secure pension scheme ensuring 30% contribution by management for their retirement benefits be implemented.
6. Minimum wage should not be less than Rs. 15000/- and it should be increased as per price rise.
India has an act for minimum wages called “The Minimum Wages Ac t, 1948”. But it has no criteria to decide how much the minimum wage should be. It will be decided by Central and State Governments and it is varying from sector to sector with in the same state, between the states and between the State and the Centre. In any case the minimum wage declared thus by the Central and State Governments is very low.
What should be the criteria for deciding minimum wage? This was discussed by the 15th Indian Labour Conference held in 1957. The representatives of Trade Unions, Industrialists and Government have participated in this Conference. The Conference unanimously recommended that the minimum wage should be need based, that is, it should satisfy the minimum needs of a worker. What are the minimum needs that should be thus satisfied? The Conference accepted the accepted the formula of Dr.Aykroyd regarding the minimum dietary requirements for a worker and his family. As per this, the family of a worker includes three units-worker and his wife consist two units and two children taken as one unit. According to Dr.Aykroyd, an ordinary worker requires 2700 calories a day to be able to work in a healthy manner. Hence daily dietary requirement should be such that it gives 2700 calories energy to each of the 3 units of the worker’s family. As per Dr.Aykroyd, to get this energy of 2700 calories per day for each of the 3 units in the family, the dietary requirement is that each unit requires per day 475 grams rice or wheat, 80 grams dal (toor/urad/moong), 100 grams raw vegetables, 125 grams green vegetables, 75 grams other vegetables, 120 grams fruit, 200 ml milk, 56 gram sugar/jaggery, 40 grams edible oil, and for all 3 units per month fish 2.5 kg and meat 5 kg. (Total per month requirement of the family is 42.75 kg rice/wheat, 7.2 kg dal, 9 kg raw vegetables, 11.25 kg green vegetables, 6.75 kg other vegetables, 10.8 kg fruits, 18 ltr milk, 5 kg sugar/jiggery, 3.6 kg edible oil, 2.5 kg fish and 5 kg meat. Besides this dietary requirement, the ILC also recommended that each member of the family of the worker (the worker, his wife and two children, total 4) requires 18 yards of cloth per year and hence the entire family requires 72 yards cloth every year. The ILC further recommended that the HRA required at minimum level for a worker should be equal to the rent charged for the houses built by Government under subsidized housing schemes for low income groups. 20% of the total amount of these 3 items should be given additionally towards fuel, lighting and other miscellaneous expenditure.
The Supreme Court in its judgment dated 31.10.1991 in “Workmen Vs Raptakos Bret and Co.” has upheld this concept of need based minimum wage as justified and further held that an additional 25% on the need based minimum wage arrived as per the 15th ILC recommendation should also be included in the concept of minimum wage for meeting the expenses on account of children’s education, medical requirement, minimum recreation including festivals and ceremonies and provisions for old age and marriages.
As per the average prices that prevailed in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar and Trivandrum on 1.5.2014, the minimum wage as per the recommendations of 15th ILC should be Rs 15467/- and as per the Supreme Court Judgment, this amount has to be increased by 25% and it would be Rs 20861/-.
Hence all the Trade unions are demanding the minimum wage as per the 15th ILC recommendation improved by the Supreme Court and in any case, it should not be less than Rs 15000/- in any sector and it should be increased as per the price rise.
7. Stop contractorization of permanent and perennial work and pay same wage and benefits to contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work.
As per the Contract Labor (Regularization and abolition) Act, no contract worker should be engaged for works having permanent/perennial nature. But this is being done including in Government Departments and PSUs. The proportion of contract workers is 50% in Public Sector and 70% in private sector. Hence it is necessary to regularize all the contract workers doing the work of permanent nature. In BSNL, TSMs, Casual Labor and Contract workers are being utilized for permanent works. All of them should be regularized.
Article 16 of the Constitution provides for payment of equal wage for equal work. But this is violated in private as well as public sectors. The contract workers are paid far less than the regular workers doing same and similar duties. This should end and the contract workers/casual Mazdoor/ TSMs in BSNL should be paid on par with the cadre whose duties they are performing. The facilities available to regular workers should be extended to them.
8. Universal social security cover for all workers
Only 4% of the workers in India are in organized sector and 96% of the workers are in unorganized sector. Establishments with less than 10 workers are in unorganized sector. Also, self-employed workers, home based workers, workers in Government schemes like anganwadi, mid-day meals etc. are unorganized sector workers. The unorganized sector workers who comprise 96% of the work force have no social security schemes like medical, accident compensation, PF, pension etc. Due to the continuous struggles of the working class, the UPA=1 Government enacted “The Unorganized Sector Workers Social Security act, 2008”. But there is nothing new in it except bringing the 10 earlier existing schemes like Indira Gandhi national old age pension scheme, Aam aadmi bima yojana, raashtriya svaasthya bima yojana etc. under its purview. Even these schemes are not applicable to the vast majority of the unorganized sector and applicable to only those below poverty line. Out of the 43 crore unorganized sector workers, only 6 crore are covered under this Act. Even for these 6 crores, adequate funds are not allotted for implementing the social security benefits. The UPA Government has allotted Rs 1000 crore only to implement the benefits under this Act. But not a single paisa in it is expended so far. Modi Government also is doing nothing except giving new names to the old schemes under this Act and campaigning as if they are doing great service to the unorganized sector workers by such change of names. Moreover, the Modi Government has imposed drastic cuts in budgetary allocations to the welfare schemes like ICDS (anganwadi), mid-day meals etc. which are beneficial to the unorganized workers and their families.
The trade unions are demanding that all the unorganized workers and government scheme workers should be brought under the purview of the Unorganized sector workers social security act, whether they are below or above poverty line, and sufficient funds should be allocated for implementing social security benefits like medical facilities, accident relief, maternity benefits, provident fund, pension etc. to all unorganized workers.
9. Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting applications; and immediate ratification of ILO Convention C 87 and C 98.
After the advent of the neo-liberal economic policies, managements in most of the private sector establishments and even in some PSUs are becoming increasingly intolerant towards the existence of trade unions. Workers are removed and leaders are harassed and removed for forming trade unions. The registration of trade unions has become difficult and thousands of applications for registration of trade unions are kept pending since a long time. The trade unions are demanding that the registration of trade unions should be done within 45 days of application.
As per the convention 87 approved by the ILO (International Labor Organization), all the workers should be allowed unconditional right to form trade unions without intervention from managements and without any discrimination. But the Government of India is rejecting to ratify this convention. The Government is not willing to grant trade union right to government employees and they are allowed to form associations only. The Trade Union Act lays down the c condition that to form a trade union, at least 10% of the workers or 100, whichever is less, should come together, instead of the earlier prescribed 7. There are several such restrictions and conditions on the formation of trade unions. The trade unions are demanding that the Government should ratify the convention 87 of the ILO and thus agree for the right of the workers to form their trade unions without any conditions imposed by the Government or management.
As per the convention 98 approved by the ILO, the workers should have the right of collective bargaining. Recognizing the majority union/unions based on secret ballot and negotiating with the union/unions thus recognized to come to agreement on the demands of the workers is the essence of collective bargaining. But the Government of India did not ratify this convention 98. In India, there is no Act at central level and in many states for recognizing trade unions. In PSUs and in some private companies the unions are recognized through secret ballot/check off system as per the Code of Conduct, which was only a gentleman agreement between the managements and trade unions in 1961. But in most of the private sector, the trade unions are not recognized on the basis of secret ballot and no collective agreements are reached with the recognized unions. Instead, the managements are making agreements with individual workers or with their pocket unions having no support of the workers. Hence all the trade unions are demanding that the Government of India should ratify the ILO convention 98 and ensure collective bargaining.
10. Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.
In our country every year 1.2 crore people join in the labour market searching for work. As per the statistics of the Labour Bureau, only 4.19 lakh jobs were created in 2013 in the 8 sectors-garments, leather, metals, automobiles, gems and jewelry, transport, IT/BPO and handlooms and power looms. When the jobs required is 1.2 crores, how it can be satisfied with this meagre creation of 4.19 lakhs?
Modi came to power campaigning that Manmohan Singh failed to solve unemployment and he would solve it. After becoming PM, he announced “Make in India” policy in the name of creating crores of jobs. Foreign investors coming in large scale and establishing factories in India either by themselves or jointly with Indian investors to produce in India for selling in other countries is the sum and substance of this policy. For this, Modi has been touring several foreign countries inviting the foreign big corporates. He announced several concessions to foreign investors and Indian investors. He issued land ordinance thrice to grab land from the farmers without their consent, in the name of industrialization.
In spite of this, investment has not come in a big way. A major portion (54%) of whatever has come, has come for investing in stock market, which will neither produce goods/services nor create jobs. In spite of all this, in 2014, only 4 lakhs jobs were created under Modi Raj whereas 4.19 lakh jobs were created in 2013 under Man Mohan Singh in 2013 in the 8 sectors mentioned above.
Moreover, the strategy to produce in India for selling in other countries is a flawed strategy. Due to the recession prevailing in the USA and European countries and worldwide, our exports are falling down. This is the reply given by the Commerce Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitaraman in Rajyasabha on 22.7.2015.
Even in our country the market is not growing due to lack of sufficient purchasing power in the hands of the people. As per the reply given by the Finance Minister in the Parliament on 21.7.2015, as on 31.3.2015 the number of companies closed was 45603 and it increased to 61449 by 16.7.2015. As per the latest statistics, 1.40 lakh companies in the country are at the brink of closure.
Under these circumstances, when there is no market either in other countries or in India, how foreign investors will come to produce in India? They will come only to the unproductive sectors like stock market, finance, real estate and to loot our natural resources, to get some quick profit with the concessions given by the Government. This is what is now happening.
It is also proved that the “development” said to be achieved by the foreign and Indian Corporates is helping the Corporates to increase their profits, but not helping in creating more jobs. During 2004-05 to 2009-10, the average GDFP growth was spectacular 8%, whereas the growth in jobs was only 0.8% whereas the population growth is 1.5%. It is thus proved that the concessions given to foreign and Indian capitalists are not helping in job creation.
Therefore the private sector cannot be depended upon for job creation. It should be the responsibility of the Government. But Government is shirking this responsibility. As a result the jobs in organized sector have decreased from 2.82 crores in 1998 to 2.75 crores in 2008-09. While only 20% among the workers were contract workers in 1999-2000, it increased to 32% in 2008-09 and 50% at present. Thus, due to increase in unemployment problem, the number of contract workers is growing rapidly.
The largest employer in organized sector in our country is the Government. But the Government itself has imposed ban on recruitment. It is abolishing vacant posts and outsourcing works. The number of posts unfilled in various central government departments is around 10 lakhs. The number of Railway employees has decreased from 16 lakhs to 13 lakhs during the last 10 years. The number of emp0loyees in BSNL was 3.5 lakhs as on 1.10.2000 and it came down to 2.25 lakhs as on 31.3.2015. Due to this drastic reduction of jobs in Government Department and Public Sector, the possibility of social justice for SC/ST/OBC is drastically reduced.
The Modi Government is shirking its responsibility of job creation and moreover it is attacking even the existing job creating schemes like MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) by drastic reduction in allocation of funds to it. This is reducing the work opportunities available to SC/ST/OBC sections of the people.
While thus adding to the increase in unemployment and thus creating the unrest, the ruling classes are utilizing this unrest to create communal conflicts and sectarian trends.
This increasing unemployment is resulting in more and more number of casual/contract workers forced to work for a pittance, thus weakening the power of the trade union movement, thereby negatively effecting the future of the workers and employees.
Therefore in the interest of the society and in the interest of the future of the working class, it is necessary to solve this dangerous problem of unemployment. The trade unions are demanding the Government to take the following steps to curtail unemployment:
a) Lift the ban on recruitment in Central/State Government Departments and PSUs.
b) Fill up all the vacant posts without abolishing them.
c) Stop outsourcing the work in Government departments and PSUs.
d) Improver the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme so that all the unemployed in rural areas will get work. For urban areas also, an urban employment guarantee scheme with ensured minimum wage be implemented.
e) Extend the required financial support to self-employment/self-help schemes and small industries.
f) Unemployment Allowance for unemployed and modernization of employment exchanges.
11. Urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalisation of public distribution system and banning speculative trade in commodity market.
Sometimes it may be fast, sometimes it may be slow, but certainly the prices of essential commodities are increasing continuously. This can be understood from the fact that the IDA of BSNL employees which was 0 as on 1.1.2007 has become 102.6% as on 1.7.2015. Thus within 9.5 years, the prices increased more than 100%, i.e. more than 10% increase per year. But the price index and DA formula are such that the actual price rise will not be fully compensated. Although the Central Trade Unions in their meeting with the Finance Minister on 17.1.2015 have demanded merger of 100% DA for Central Government/PSU employees, there was no response. The price rise will more seriously impact the workers who are not getting any DA for price rise. The privatization of education and health has added more burden on the low paid workers and common people. Added to this, the Modi Government has lifted the price control on drugs required in the case of critical diseases like heart, cancer, diabetes and their prices increased considerably.
Internationally, the prices of petroleum were reduced by 50%. If prices of petroleum and diesel in our country are reduced accordingly, it would have resulted in reduction in the prices of all commodities due to reduction in power/transport charges. Due to such reduction in diesel prices, the losses to BSNL would have reduced accordingly. But in our country there is no such reduction in the prices of petroleum products since the Modi Government has increased the taxes on petroleum products and deprived this benefit to the people.
The main reason for price rise is black market and speculation. The speculation on essential commodities is allowed in the name of forward/future trading. Besides this, the Government is destroying the food security act by resorting to cash payment for food subsidy. This is nothing but a conspiracy to kill public distribution system.
Therefore the trade unions are demanding the following measures to control price rise:
a) Don’t allow black market in essential
b) Ban speculation in essential commodities
c) Universalize Public Distribution System and provide essential commodities through it.
12. No FDI in Railway, Insurance, Pension and Defense
Modi Government has enacted increase in FDI ceiling limit in insurance sector from 26% to 49%, with the help of the Congress. This increase is automatically applicable to pension sector. The Modi Government decided to allow 100% FDI in railway infrastructure and to increase FDI ceiling from 26 to 49% in defense production sector. Allowing FDI in large scale in pension and insurance is dangerous to the pension security and medical schemes available to employees. The Pension Fund Companies with more and more FDI will increase the pressure on the Government to handover the pension fund of the Government employees also to them, thereby threatening the security of government pension. Similarly the increase in FDI in insurance sector will lead to increasing pressure on the Government to cancel the medical facilities available under EPS, CGHS, and various medical schemes in PSUs like BSNL MRS and to divert all employees and workers to health insurance, which is less beneficial compared to the existing medical schemes. This increased FDI will thus lead to a serious threat to EPF, EPS, Pension and medical benefits. The increased FDI in defense production will endanger our self-reliance in defense production. Allowing FDI in Railways will lead to its privatization. The Bibek Deb Roy Committee appointed by Modi Government has already recommended for allowing private companies in installing and maintaining railway tracks and in running trains.
Hence trade unions are demanding not to allow FDI in insurance, pension, defense and railways.
The Alternative path of development proposed by the trade unions
The theory that the foreign and Indian big corporates must be satisfied by abolishing the rights of the workers, employees and peasants and by abolishing the welfare measures available to the people and then only they will invest and develop the country is a bankrupt theory. It is not development, but enslaving the people for the benefits of the Indian and foreign corporates.
The trade unions are opposing such a bankrupt, anti-worker, anti-people theory of development. All the Central Trade Unions have unitedly presented an alternative proposal for developing the country, in the pre-budget consultation held by the Finance Minister Sri Arun Jaitley on 17.1.2015. The proposal of the trade unions is as below:
a) To improve employment, Government has to invest in large scale for developing infrastructure.
b) The funds for such investment can be gathered by cancelling the unjustified concessions given to Corporates( more than Rs 5 lakh crore every year), by collecting the NPAs of Banks (Debts not paid) due from the Corporates and by collecting the more than Rs 5 lakh taxes evaded by the Corporates.
c) The black money in foreign countries diverted from India illegally is double the amount of foreign debt of India. It should be brought back.
d) The resources thus pooled can be used for developing the country by investing for improving infrastructure and agriculture and for implementing social security to all workers and the people and for implementing welfare of the people.
Thus there are enough resources for developing the country and for solving unemployment and for providing social security and welfare.
This is the alternative proposed by the working class for developing the country.
The real problem in our country is not the lack of adequate resources for development and for satisfying the demands of the workers and for welfare measures for the people.
The real problem is the lack of political will with the Government, be it of UPA or NDA variety, to gather resources by abolishing unjustified concessions to the Corporates, by bringing back the black money and by collecting taxes evaded by corporates etc. The reason for this is the previous UPA and the present NDA are representing the interests of the Corporates and not of the people. The Modi Government has now resorted to an all-round and severe attack on the rights and facilities of the working class and the people and it is hell bent on selling the PSU stocks quickly, in large scale and implement large scale privatization.
Therefore the issue before each and every worker and employee, be it in any sector, is to decide whether to accept slavery by agreeing to all these attacks by Modi Government and State Governments or to come forward to fight unitedly against this attack.
It is the task and responsibility of all workers and employees in all sectors to participate in the nation wide general strike of the working class against the anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Central and State Governments to protect the future. This strike is a patriotic strike for saving the future of the working class and the people of India from the barbarous attacks of the foreign and Indian Corporates. This struggle is nothing but a struggle for saving our independence. Hence it is necessary for each and every worker and employee to participate in such a great and sacred general strike.