Modi govt promoting new forms of ‘economic slavery’: Congress

“India abolished slavery centuries ago. Modi Government is Promoting New Forms of ‘Economic Slavery’ for Exploitation of Labour & Working Class,” Randeep Surjewala, national spokesperson of the grand old party wrote on Twitter.
Workers labour at a chassis assembly line on the Innova Crysta compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) production line at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd. plant in Bidadi, Karnataka.(Bloomberg File Photo)
Workers labour at a chassis assembly line on the Innova Crysta compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) production line at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd. plant in Bidadi, Karnataka.(Bloomberg File Photo)
Published on Nov 23, 2020 06:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Kanishka Sarkar

Days after the labour ministry proposed raising ‘spread-over time’ for a worker to 12 hours a day from the current limit of 10-and-half hours, Congress on Monday attacked the Centre saying the proposed rules will lead to 41 lakh job losses in the organised sector. This comes two months after three labour code bills were passed by the Parliament during the monsoon session in September.

“India abolished slavery centuries ago. Modi Government is Promoting New Forms of ‘Economic Slavery’ for Exploitation of Labour & Working Class,” Randeep Surjewala, national spokesperson of the grand old party wrote on Twitter.

The order notified on November 19, has drawn flak from many corners because the Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020 passed by Parliament provides for maximum eight working hours in a day.

Surjewala also shared a statement released by the Congress in which the party has alleged that the BJP government, instead of mitigating the over-exploitation of the poor and vulnerable, has now given an open license to oppress the working and manufacturing class. “Rule 28 of the new rules now provide for 12 hour shifts for factory workers, leaving them little time for long hours of commuting, rest, sending for the household, relaxation and family time i.e. work-life balance.” This would have a severe impact on the physical and mental well-being for India’s labour and working class, it added.

Terming it “Draconian Anti-Labour Rules”, the statement claims the amended legislation is bound to make 1/3rd of the current workforce in factories across the country “redundant” and “jobless,” as industries will now opt for two shifts instead of the prevailing three-shift pattern.

Countering the government’s proposal of 12 hours-shifts based on suggestions of the parliamentary committee on labour, Congress cited 2017-2018 Annual Survey of Industries by the Government of India, according to which there were 1,22,24,402 individual workers employed in factories alone in India. However, with the stretched working hours allowed under the new rules, more than 40,65,000 persons will be rendered jobless immediately upon its implementation, the grand old party claimed.

The OHS Code 2020, passed by Parliament in September, amended laws regulating occupational safety, health and working conditions of employees. The code empowers a state government to exempt any new factory from the provisions of the Code to create more economic activity and jobs.

According to proposed labour code draft rules, no worker shall be required, or allowed, to work for more than 48 hours in a week. The establishment needs to ensure that the working period, inclusive breaks, does not spread over for more than 12 hours in a day, the draft rules state. No worker will work for more than five hours without at least a half-an-hour break, according to the proposed rules.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022