Indian Government Must Fulfil Jobs Promise and Respect Workers’ Rights

The ITUC has called on the government of India to accept a 12-point Charter of Demands from India’s national trade union centres, and withdraw plans to bring in a series of restrictive amendments to the country’s labour laws.

At a meeting with the ITUC-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in Delhi today, the ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow called on the government to cease its attacks on the largest trade union centre, and to engage in dialogue with it.

“India’s working people are being ignored by this government, which has failed to meet its promise to create 10 million jobs a year. Instead, jobs are being lost, and those in employment are seeing their incomes stagnate or fall behind. India needs a pay rise, for the sake of its people, and to ensure the purchasing power that will stimulate growth. The ITUC calls on the government to accept the union demand for a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 a month, with indexation. Worth about USD 277, this minimum wage is easily affordable for employers, and would ensure that people can live and work in dignity. The ITUC stands in full solidarity with the working people of India,” said Burrow.

“Last year, the INTUC and the other central union organisations organised the biggest strike in history, with more than 100 million people taking part. The government cannot ignore the growing resentment and anger at inequality, and will see more evidence of this with the planned demonstrations as from 9 November in front of the Parliament. We welcome the support and solidarity of the ITUC, with its more than 180 million members worldwide,” said INTUC President Dr. G. Sanjeeva Reddy.

“The Indian government is in the spotlight, and the power of India’s trade union movement in mobilising tens of millions of people is not only an inspiration to workers everywhere, it also means that the government must take heed,” said Burrow.

Whilst in Delhi, Burrow will meet with all of the Indian trade union centres, with the exception of the ruling party-linked BMS, which has consistently sided with the government against the demands of the overwhelming majority of India’s unions. The meeting will include discussion of the 12-point Charter of Demands, which includes:

  • • Urgent measures for containing price-rises through universalisation of the public distribution system and banning speculative trade in commodity markets;
  • • Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation;
  • • Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violations;
  • • Universal social security coverage for all workers;
  • • A minimum wage of not less than Rs 18,000 per month with provisions for indexation;
  • • A guarantee of enhanced pension provision, not less than Rs 3,000 per month for the entire working population;
  • • Stoppage of disinvestment in and sale of Public Sector Undertakings;
  • • An end to the use of temporary contracts for permanent perennial work; ensure equal wages and benefits for contract and regular workers;
  • • Removal of ceilings on bonuses and other payments, and increase the quantum of gratuity;
  • • Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of their submitting an application, and immediate ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98;
  • • Withdrawal of the proposed labour law amendments; and
  • • A ban on foreign direct investment in sectors vital to India’s economy, including railways, insurance and defence.

See press Statement