The new labour rules will create unemployment and promote new forms of “slavery”, the Congress alleged on Monday, demanding the rollback of the ‘Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (Central) Rules, 2020’.
The opposition party also claimed that the Modi government had brought the rules to benefit a few of its “crony capitalist friends”.
Even though India abolished slavery centuries ago, the Modi government has re-introduced a system of “economic slavery” of the labour and the working classes through the ‘Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (Central) Rules, 2020’, to benefit a “few crony capitalist friends”, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged in a statement.
“Once again, the BJP government has sanctioned legalised assault on the livelihood, well-being, health and work-life balance of India’s workforce. We demand that these rules be reviewed forthwith in consultation with all stakeholders, including the All India Trade Union Congress,” he said.
“Until then, let these rules be kept in suspended animation,” the spokesperson said in the statement.
Instead of mitigating the over-exploitation of the poor and the vulnerable, the central government has now given an “open licence” to oppress the working and the manufacturing classes, Surjewala claimed.
The Congress leader said as per Rule 28 of the new rules there will be 12-hour shifts for factory workers. This will leave them with little time for long hours of commuting, rest, relaxation and family time, hampering work-life balance, Surjewala said.
“This will have a severe impact on the physical and the mental wellbeing of India’s labour and working class,” he said.
Terming the new rules as “draconian”, Surjewala alleged that they are bound to make one-third of the current workforce in factories across India “redundant and jobless” as industries will now opt for “two shifts instead of three as per the current pattern”.
“The said proposal can only be justified by BJP’s political ideology, which supports and foresees India’s hard working class as slaves of the rich,” he said.
“Under the Rule 56, the BJP government has also proposed a long list of exceptions where the employer can force workmen to work beyond 12 hours per day,” the Congress spokesperson said.
These are nothing but “weapons to legalise a new form of slavery in India as the poor and vulnerable sections will be free to be exploited at the hands of the factory/mill owners”, he said.
“The BJP government, through the new rules has added insult to injury to the builders of modern India – migrant workers, by rejecting the provision for their existence records in the new rules,” Surjewala said in the statement.
This will conveniently allow the BJP to “use and abuse the vulnerable sections without affording them any rights”, he alleged.
The Congress leader also alleged that the decision of the government to not include any provision for creating a database of workers in the new rules despite the suffering faced by migrants during the lockdown, confirms that the poor and hardworking are the last priority.