India: Alarming Erosion of Labour Laws

The ITUC has expressed alarm at a wholesale erosion of labour laws initiated by the Indian government, and pledged full support for a general strike in protest against the changes planned for 5 January. The global trade union body has also condemned the government’s exclusion of major national trade union organisation INTUC from key tripartite processes.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “the Indian government is removing important protections for working people, and exposing workers to exploitation by employers and to greater risks of death, injury and illness at work. The exclusion of the INTUC from tripartite processes, on spurious grounds, is aimed at punishing them for criticising government policies, and at breaking the strong solidarity between the Indian national trade union centres and their unity in opposing these regressive measures. With our Regional Organisation ITUC-AP, we will continue to stand with our Indian trade union brothers and sisters in pressing the government to change course, to defend decent work instead of undermining it.”

The legal changes being pushed by the government include:

  • Making it easier for employers to impose mass retrenchment of workers;
  • Introducing new obstacles to collective bargaining;
  • Excluding workers in smaller enterprises from vital protections, including on occupational health and safety;
  • Opening the way for privatisation of social security; and,
  • “Streamlining” labour laws in a way that benefits employers at the expense of workers.

“The Indian government should focus on lifting people out of poverty and informality, rather than undermining workers’ rights and giving employers, including multinational companies, a completely free reign to exploit at will,” said Burrow.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 02 53 or by sending e-mail to: press@ituc-csi.org