Ten central trade unions (CTU) on 11 May 2020 said they are considering approaching the International Labour Organization (ILO) against suspension of major labour laws in some states. The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath last week gave nod to 'Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020' to exempt factories, business establishments and industries from the purview of all, except three labour laws and one provision of another law, for three years. The Madhya Pradesh government has also suspended some labour laws and as per media reports, Gujarat too is following suit.
  1. In a joint statement issued on 11 May 2020, the central trade unions also threatened to give a call for nationwide agitation to protest against such moves by state governments.
  2. The CTUs consider these moves as....gross violation of the Right to Freedom of Association (ILO Convention 87), Rights to Collective Bargaining( ILO Convention 98) and also the internationally accepted norm of eight hour working day - espoused by Core Conventions of ILO), the statement said. It also noted that the ILO Convention 144 with regard to tripartism has been undermined by the governments.
  3. While seriously considering to lodge a complaint with ILO on these misdeeds of the Government for gross violation of Labour Standards, the CTUs call upon the working class to oppose these designs.... soon the CTUs would give a nationwide call for action.
  4. The Joint Platform of CTUs and Federations/Associations denounced the blanket exemptions given to all establishments from the employers' obligation under all substantive labour laws for a period of three years by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  5. In UP, an ordinance in this regard has been promulgated and the same is going to be done in Madhya Pradesh also as asserted by the state's Chief Minister.
  6. Similar move of liberating the employers from all labour laws is going to be initiated in Gujarat also for a period of 1,200 days.
  7. The working people have been subjected to inhuman sufferings owing to loss of jobs and wages, eviction from residences etc reducing them to hungry non-entities in the process of 45-day lockdown.
  8. The government of the day at the centre has pounced upon those working people only with fangs and claws to reduce them to the stature of virtual slaves, the statement added.
  9. Now the Government at the centre has taken the strategy of letting loose their pliant state governments to take such anti-worker and anti-people autocratic measures, many other state governments are expected to follow suit.
  10. This retrograde ( labour laws suspension) anti-worker move came in the second stage after six state governments have enhanced the daily working hours from eight hours to 12 hours through executive order in violation of the Factories Act, taking advantage of the lockdown situation. 
  11. The 10 CTUs that issued the joint statement are INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTU, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC. There are total 12 CTUs.
  12. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted economic activities, some states have decided to relax labour laws.
About the ILO
  1. The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
  2. The unique tripartite structure of the ILO gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes.
  3. The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.
  4. The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.