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‘Meeting was Farce’: Central Trade Unions Ask Govt to Put Labour Codes on Hold, Start Fresh Discussions

The unions said they have outright rejected the move of the government to frame Rules on the four labour codes citing alleged lapses in consultation procedure.
General Strike, Nov 2020

Workers protest in Tamil Nadu as part of the all India general strike on November 26, 2020. | Image Courtesy: Facebook

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions has demanded that the Labour Ministry put on hold the four labour codes and start fresh discussions with the unions on each code in the true spirit of bipartite and tripartite consultations.

Three labour codes on industrial relations, social security and occupational safety and health were passed in the last Monsoon session of the Parliament. Earlier, the code on wage was passed in 2019 but the Ministry held back its implementation in order to enforce all the codes at once.

After the latest meeting with the Labour Ministry on Wednesday, the Central Trade Unions in a statement said, “We do not accept this meeting as consultation but a farce to camouflage consultations.”  

The unions said they have outright rejected the move of the government to frame Rules on the Labour Codes as these “were passed in the Parliament without any discussion with the Central Trade Unions.” They also said that the Labour Codes were passed in the Parliament when the opposition MPs were absent.

Some MPs had even given in writing to the Government that the labour codes should not be placed in a hurry and that there is need for serious discussions on such an important matter with trade unions and also inside the Parliament which concerns the life of more than 50 crore (500 million) workforce of the country. But the Government went ahead flouting the parliamentary norms and bypassing the tripartite consultation in violation and disregard to the international commitments on international labour standards and the ILO Conventions of which India is signatory,” the unions said in a statement.

The government is rushing to push the implementation of the four codes under pressure from the corporate and employers organisations, the unions said. They further claimed that the draft labour codes put in public domain and the ones finally passed by the Parliament were not the same.

They also pointed out that they had already opposed the government’s decision to tinker with 40 labour laws and reducing these laws into four codes.” They added that in the meeting, they also protested against the Indian Labour Conference not being held for the last five years.

The Central Trade Union Organisations (CTUOs) have listed the five points they have put forth in the meeting with the Labour Ministry. These are the following:

“1. When the Central Trade Unions have already rejected the four Labour Codes, the CTUO’s are not in a position to discuss the rules being framed on these four labour Codes.

2. The fact is that the proposals given by the Central Trade Unions on these four Labour Codes, when these were put in the public domain without any prior consultation and involvement of unions in drafting of these laws, which was against the procedures in such matter, even those (the proposals) were not given any cognizance by the Govt.

3. Moreover, the draft Labour Codes which were posted in the public domain and the ones that were approved by the Cabinet and subsequently passed in the parliament flouting parliamentary procedures and norms were totally different.

4. The recommendations made by the Parliament Standing Committee on three Labour codes were also rejected by the Govt.

5. The Govt. is not serious either on bipartite or tripartite discussions in accordance with the ILO conventions.

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