Changes to India’s labour laws set to downgrade worker’s rights13 Aug, 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) have criticised proposed changes to India’s labour laws by the Government of India which will make it easier for employers to deprive the workers of their wages, rights and privileges. Instead, the IJU has called for a national discussion on reforms to come up with meaningful proposals that would serve to strengthen the media.
The proposed ‘labour reforms’ fall under amendments to the Factories Act, the Apprenticeship Act and other labour laws in the Parliament. The Indian Cabinet has already approved proposals to amend the acts ‘with the common intention to make them more compatible and beneficial for the labour and the industry’.
However, the IJU says these amendments will pave the way for employers to deprive workers of their wages, rights and privileges by providing them with concessions.
IJU president, SN Sinha, and secretary general, D Amar, said in a joint statement: “What is required instead is a national debate on real labour reforms to regulate the wages and other benefits of the workers, guarantee their job security and codify their terms and conditions of service and work, including post-retirement benefits.”
The IJU has called upon the Government to withhold its plans to force anti-labour changes and to initiate genuine steps to set the stage for an adequate security net for the working people. It wants to discussing real labour reforms at an extended national Labour Conference to be attended by all Central trade union organizations as well as national professional trade unions.”
Many changes are a replica of those made in Rajasthan state, earlier this year, which was strongly condemned by the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ).
At the time the DUJ said: “Reducing the few protections offered by the Industrial Disputes Act, the Contract Labor Act and the Factories Act would only promote arbitrary hire and fire policies; and restricting the right to form trade unions and other anti-labour policies will only lead to an acceleration of conflicts between workforce and employers.”
The IFJ said the moves by India to reform labour laws would further jeopardise the stability of employment for journalists and media workers and ultimately undermine the media.
Jane Worthington, the IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, said: “We call on the Indian government to re-evaluate the need for such changes and call for further consultation with the unions and employees to ensure a full and fair discussion of the issues.