Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Suggestions on Right to Safe and Healthy Working Environment strategic planning meeting of Trade Unions – 29th – 30th, June 2022.
We had very fruitful, discussion though with a bit tight schedule and could share our views on “Right to Safe and Healthy Working Environment”.
I would like to put some suggestions on behalf of Hind Mazdoor Sabha;
Ø Regarding scope and Jurisdiction the resolution has used word “All” which means it will be applicable to all workers irrespective of their category, status, emoluments etc, as has been done in case of almost all conventions passed by ILO right from Philadelphia to centenary declaration of 2019, in case of India we do have a National Policy frame work, “New Labour Code” on Occupational Health and Safety and Working Conditions. Which aims at universal occupational safety and health and better working conditions but the ground zero situation is quite contrary.
Ø The Government in the name of “Ease of doing business” has amended, diluted or deleted labour friendly, hard earned provisions of existing labour laws.
I have mentioned Indian Government’s some anti – worker decisions in of few to repeat are:-
Ø Has enhanced workers ceiling for an establishment to become factory from existing ten to twenty for establishments using power and for those not using power from existing 20 to 40. Those employing less than the ceiling will not be covered by “Factories Act”. This has given freedom to employers to run the factory as per their whims with the connivance of Labour Department.
I have quoted some cases of fire in and around Delhi like, Uphaar Cinema, Anaj Mandi, Nand Nagri, Bahana, Arpit Hotel, Mundka etc where employers were running factories in residential areas, with no obligatory provisions to prevent or fight fire, No Objection Certificate. from fire department was also not even applied for.
Recently a fire broke in Ruhi Industries, Dhaulana, District Hapur in Uttar Pradesh on 4th June, 2022 in which 17 workers are reported to have died and 15 are seriously injured. Nobody bothering about the poor workers who are mostly from the backward, Dalit segment of the society.
The labour and other concerned offices have manipulated the facts and not shouldering the responsibility.
Assistant Director Factory / officiating Deputy Director factories Shri. Alok Kumar Sharma and his team has crossed all limits and are reported to have said that the “establishment where the fire broke is not factory” How inhuman, callous is the approach of responsible officers of different concerned department.
How will the resolution ensure protection of worker’s right in such cases there are other categories too like street vendors, head load workers, workers in unorganized sector, platform workers, contract workers, workers engaged in Dhabas, restaurants, private hospital etc.
The Niti Ayog in India in a report has suggested social security for gig workers in India, Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has also shown it’s concern. In USA companies such as uber and Lyft have been asked by the courts to treat gig workers as employees. They should be paid sick leave, health services assess and insurance etc.
It is need of the hour for India’s is “blooming gig and platform economy” According to Niti Ayog the gig work force is expected to expand to 2.35 carore by 2029 -30, will be 6.7% of the non farm workforce or 4.1% of total livelihood in India.
All these measures are to be taken by the Government of Member State. The present Government drafting and implementing the policies just contrary to the spirit of the resolution.
Ø Number of hours of overtime in a quarter enhanced from 75 to 125 Hrs
Ø Maximum number of hours of work per day enhanced from 8 to 12
Ø Ceiling for applicability of contract labour Act enhanced from 20 to 50
Ø Ceiling for applicability of Industrial Employment Standing Order Act enhanced from 100 to 300
Ø Fixed term employment introduced which is promoting precarious employment and making Decent Jobs most indecent, contrary to Goal No 8 of UN Agenda 2030 on “Sustainable Development Goals”, ILO centenary Declaration 2019, Fundamental Principles and Rights at work 1998 of ILO
Ø India has ratified ILO convention 81 on inspection and had detailed provisions to ensure, free, frequent, sudden inspections of the industry under factories Act 1948 but the present Government has diluted the inspection to a very large extent, has put various restrictions for its inspection, has exempted. Some industries from inspection in violation of statutory provisions, ILO convention 81 as well.
Ø Safety provisions of existing factory Act or Mines or other such laws have been diluted which has resulted in huge incidents of accidents some of them fatal and defaulters taking shelter of “New Labour Code on Occupational Health and Safety and working conditions”.
Ø India has ratified ILO Convention 144 on Tripartite consultations, has it’s own Tripartite mechanism in the name of Indian Labour Conference but despite repeated requests has not convened it’s meeting since 2015. How can social dialogue be encouraged under these circumstances.
Ø Railway is the biggest public sector employer of the country it has out sourced more than 60 percent of it’s routine, regular activities. The Government has also opened flood gates for private player in “Coal, Port and Dock, Railway, Bank, Insurance, Road Transport, High ways, Power Generation, Distribution, Transmission, Telecommunication, Defence, Civil aviation, Airport” etc.
Our affiliates from different sectors and industries have raised concern on ignorance, violation of safety rules and have brought these to the notice of senior executives of concerned organization in coal, ship breaking industry NTPC, other public and private sector industries.
Hind Mazdoor Sabha proposes that some penal provisions for violation be added in the draft against defaulting member state.
As regard regular reporting of progress of implementation of ILO Convention and recommendations the provision says that member state before finalizing it’s comments will discuss with the representatives of employers and employees, will obtain their suggestions and incorporate in Government’s report, but in India the Government just sends a letter asking trade unions to offer their comments on the Government proposed reply (which is never attached with letter)
There should be a certificate from appropriate authority on behalf of Government that before finalizing the comments by the Government views of Employees and Employers have been obtained and incorporated in the Government’s comments.
Ø Special attention be given for “Safety of Women Workers” as they are most vulnerable.