New Delhi: State units of the Central Trade Unions here on Friday pressed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to not implement the labour codes in the national capital. The unions also submitted a strike notice ahead of the November 26 general strike.
The notice was presented at the Delhi Secretariat in the form of a joint letter. It was addressed to Delhi’s Governor, Chief Minister, Labour Minister, and Labour Commissioner. Enlisting as many as 27 demands that cover various sections of the working class in Delhi, along with 7 national demands, the unions urged the AAP government to resolve the issues at the earliest through dialogue.
“The minimum wage declared by the government in Delhi is not adhered to. In the labour department, disposal of cases is not done in a time-bound manner. The incidences of industrial accidents are frequent. Such a situation has been created due to negligence of work, rampant corruption and lack of staff among the top officers sitting in the labour departments,” the letter said in Hindi.
Signatories to the notice included CITU, AITUC, AICCTU, INTUC, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, UTUC, SEWA, LPF, MEC, and ICTU.
Working conditions of the informal labour force in the national capital continues to remain poor due to the ill-implementation of welfare schemes by the Delhi government, the unions alleged. Trade bodies also complained about the razing of hawkers’ businesses in the city.
“The Narendra Modi–led central government has legislated agriculture reforms and labour codes in an undemocratic and wayward manner, despite protests from the workers,” the trade unions said. This will result in a “jungle raj” for the employers and “slavery” for workers, the bodies added.
Three labour codes – out of the four – were passed in Parliament in the recently concluded monsoon session; the other one was passed earlier in 2019. Rules are currently being prepared for all of them, with the Centre aiming to implement them together by April next year.
Anurag Saxena, general secretary of the Delhi unit of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) told NewsClick that the letter was submitted today, “to let the Delhi government know that work will be boycotted on November 26 due to long pending demands.”
On Friday, as many as 200 protesters led by the trade bodies also rallied to Delhi Secretariat from Shaheed Bhagat Singh park. However, the rally was stopped at ITO Metro station by the police, and a public meeting was conducted in the afternoon.
Abhishek of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) accused AAP leaders of keeping mum over workers rights. “Ever since the labour codes were passed, not a has been uttered by either Arvind Kejriwal or Manish Sisodia,” he said. The latter, the Deputy Chief Minister, was recently handed charge of Delhi’s Labour and Employment department.
Their silence showed how the AAP views workers’ welfare, he said, adding that even the hike in minimum wages was delayed this year.
NewsClick had earlier reported that the AAP government has been sitting over a proposal to revise variable dearness allowances (VDA) – a component of the wage structure – for this year, thereby potentially causing distress to over 50 lakh workers in the national capital. The bi-annual hike is meant to offset the impact of rising inflation.
It has also been reported how novel forms of organising workers are being tried out by the trade unions in Delhi, in order to ensure more community participation, including among informal workers, for the forthcoming general strike. It is set to also coincide with a farmers’ march to the national capital – a countrywide call given by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) – between November 26 and November 27.
National bodies of over 200 farmers groups have already extended their support to the workers’ protest action.
Calling for a united resistance by all, “in the form of defiance and non-cooperation,” through the said strike, the central trade bodies are demanding withdrawal of farm laws and labour codes, along with a cash dole of Rs 7,500 per month to all non-payees of income tax and ten kgs of ration every month for all those in need.