The ITUC Asia Pacific expresses deep concern over the labour law reform and gross violations of workers’ rights under the Covid-19 pandemic in India.
In many states in India the coronavirus crisis is being used as an excuse to suspend labour laws and attack workers’ rights. Extensive amendments have been proposed by the central and local governments to lower labour standards. These include extending the number of working hours from eight to twelve hours a day, normalising fixed-term employment, exempting companies from labour inspections, and suspending the labour laws in order to attract investments. These labour amendments and administrative orders seriously undermine the fundamental principles and rights at work of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and have grave implications on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. They were made without genuine engagement and consultation with trade unions in further violation of ILO Convention No. 144 on Tripartite Consultation which the Indian government has ratified.
The government of India should hold the long overdue Indian Labour Conference without any delay to address the major demands and bring the labour law amendments in compliance with the international labour standards.
Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary of ITUC- Asia Pacific said that the current labour reform is curtailing or ending the worker's rights that have been achieved by several struggles of the Indian Trade Union Movement since independence. The worst thing that the Indian Government has passed these laws without discussion or consultation with the Trade Unions which is an assault on democracy.
A model Letter written to the Prime Minister of India is attached which can be used by respective organizations for showing solidarity with Indian workers.