Friday, March 2, 2018

The conference was being held after a gap of two years, and was to focus on issues of labour law amendments, social security for workers and employment generation.
Newsclick Report 26 Feb 2018


Central trade unions have condemned the BJP-led NDA government’s decision to indefinitely postpone the 47th Indian Labour Conference (ILC) — the highest tripartite forum of trade unions, employers, and state and central governments to discuss the issues of workers in the country.

The 46th ILC was held in 2015, and this one was supposed to take place on 26 and 27 February. Earlier this month the RSS-affiliated trade union had announced it was boycotting the ILC as its demands had not been met in the Union Budget 2018-19.

On 20 February, the Union labour and employment ministry said informed all central trade unions that the conference had been postponed in a letter that reportedly said, “The ILC has been postponed. Inconvenience is regretted.”

In a joint statement issued after a meeting of the central trade unions, except BMS, on 22 February, the unions said that they “denounced the Govt of India’s surreptitious move in postponing the 47th session of Indian Labour Conference, thereby reducing tripartism to a mockery.”

The joint platform of central trade union will hold an all-India general strike on 15 March. The BMS is not part of the joint platform, as it had disassociated itself from the joint platform two days before the nationwide general strike in September 2015, when it came out in favour of the NDA government, saying the government was positively considering the demands of workers.

The 46th ILC was to focus mainly on employment generation, amendment of labour laws and the reforms that the government is proposing, and social security for workers.

On 15 February, during a meeting with the labour department, the central trade unions had protested against a notification issued in January by the government with draft rules introducing “fixed-term employment” that would lead to casualisation of labour.

At that point, the central trade unions had said they would decide whether or not to be part of the ILC depending on the government’s attitude towards their demands, said AR Sindhu of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), speaking to Newsclick.

Meanwhile, the recommendations of the 43rd, 44th and 45th ILCs — particularly on formulation of minimum wages, and same pay for same work to contract workers as paid regular workers — are yet to be implemented. The 45th ILC had also called for the regularisation of scheme workers.

As the joint statement by the central trade unions said, “Attack on working class centering around dismantling labour laws designed to completely casualise employment conditions through various routes like amending Contract Labour Act, introducing Fixed Term Employment etc has assumed aggressive height.”

On 12 February, the trade unions had written to labour and employment ministry, expressing their disappointment over the non-implementation of the recommendations in the previous ILCs as well as objecting to the NDA’s move of not inviting the Congress-affiliated central trade union Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) to the conference.

It is being reported that the government may have postponed the meeting in order to avoid embarrassment in the face of the boycott decision of the BMS as well as indications by other trade unions that may not be part of the ILC.

S Kumaraswamy of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) told Newsclick, “This government simply does not believe in involving the labour and trade unions in any major decision regarding the workers of the country. The government is anti-working class and has no qualms about it.”

An example of the importance of the ILC and its recommendations in the history of India’s working-class movement is that in 1957, the 15th ILC had laid down the formula for the calculation of minimum wages that has been followed since then.

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