Drawing the lines on support to the NDA’s economic reforms, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi made it clear that his party would not back the proposed labour bills and accused the government of trying to instil a sense of fear among workers.
“The Prime Minister feels Indian workers are dishonest and lazy and they should be made to work by cracking the whip. He feels labour laws should be weakened to discipline the workers so that they could be forced to work. He wants the workers to be at the mercy of employers,” Gandhi said on Saturday at the 31st Plenary Session of INTUC, the trade union arm of the Congress.
Gandhi said that the party would fight for the rights of workers, maintaining that the role of the government is not to be the counsel for investors but to act as a judge between workers and industrialists.
“Our worker is scared about his own future and that of his children. The worker is scared of losing jobs. If the PM removes these fears from the worker’s mind, we can even beat China,” Gandhi added.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, otherwise a supporter of reforms, also cautioned against the labour laws.
“In the name of structural labour reforms, efforts are being made to reduce the scope for secure industrial jobs in favour of contract labour and hire and fire approach,” he said.
The centre has an ambitious list of six bills to revamp the labour sector and woo investors, through which it seeks to simplify the myriad labour laws and drastically reduce the power of trade unions.
The government also has plans to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) laws to allow children up to a certain age to work in family-owned non-hazardous occupation.
The Congress vice president’s latest stand comes amidst the government and the Opposition’s ongoing negotiations to clear the Goods and Services Tax Bill.