The situation of migrant workers, who had started walking to their far-off villages since the second day of the declaration of national lockdown, showed us the lack of minimum job security at their workplace. Today, the government has chosen them, who were depending on it up to yesterday for relief-food, to carry responsibilities of ‘reviving the economy’ and has decided to scrap labour laws. We were alleging the government for ignoring the situation of migrant workers. Such decision has confirmed us that the government is not ignoring it rather has been clear in this matter through the ‘war’ against Carona.

On May 05, the central government issued a circular saying that ‘in order to address the challenges emerged due to the COVID 19 pandemic, it is requested to undertake labour reforms on priority basis’. After that the states like Gujurat, UP, MP, Panjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and Odisha issued ordinance – have amended factories act, 1948 to increase working hours from 8 to 12 hours, to end the inspection by labour inspectors and to end the functions of labour unions.

The owners of industries were demanding for scrapping up of labour laws and flexible labour market in the pretext of more investment and reduction of cost of production even much before the pandemic.  But during Corona pandemic the government did all those amendments without any discussion in or outside the parliament/assembly and without consultation of workers’ organisations or trade unions.   The ‘Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan, Odisha’ has strong opinion that the government has one intention – to execute the contract workers for ‘bringing economy on track’.

Why the government did not direct the big companies to sell their products with minimum profit so to enhance the demands or did not introduce Carona tax on wealthy people? Instead of scrapping up of labour laws why didn’t the government direct the companies to provide free shelter, food, health and education facilities to all family members of the worker? In the owner-worker conflict, if any problem arises on the process of accumulation of capital, then the history tells us that the government has stood in favour of the owners. It withdraws privileges from the workers and become ruthless on them.  In time of Coronavirus the government is adopting the similar strategy.

All these steps make it clear that the declaration of lockdown and subsequent slogan of “Stay home stay safe” was only meant for all the rich section of people of our society. The government had this intention that when the economy would be slowed due to lockdown then these migrant contract workers would be engaged without minimum social security.

The slogan of bringing back China-returned MNCs to India would be a miniscule percentage of total investment. The government’s reason of scrapping of laws to invite them also is against the rights of the large section of own people in general and workers in particular. Such decision does not seem to warranty a self-independent economy but rather shows its vulnerability before the corporates.

The Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakha Sangathan, Odisha argues that all these scrapping and amendment of labour laws will increase economic inequality in our society. No doubt this will make the poor workers more vulnerable. Those rights, what the workers had achieved in last two hundred years of their struggle, the government cannot take away in the name of fighting against Coronavirus.

We appeal all workers’ organisation, trade unions, human rights organisation and individuals to raise the issue and pressurise the government to withdraw its decision for ‘amendment of labour laws’.

Release by : Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakha Sangathan, Odisha

Email: gassbhubaneswara@gmail.com


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One Comment

  1. Capitalism is crime against humanity