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Global unions in solidarity with Indian union movement

29 October, 2020IndustriALL and ITUC vowed to stand together in solidarity with the Indian union movement, supporting their struggle against the anti-worker policies of the Modi government.

A joint webinar, labour law changes in India: An attack on the working class, organized by the council of global unions and hosted by IndustriALL on 28 October 2020, witnessed active participation of trade union leaders and representatives from around the world. This was part of a series of webinars organized by the council of global unions focusing on the grave attacks on workers rights and democracy during the pandemic.

The anti-worker changes to Indian labour law enacted by Prime Minister Modi have on many counts undermined international labour standards, fundamental principles and rights at work and social justice espoused in previous labour laws. The changes have a negative impact on freedom of association, collective bargaining and trade union rights, including the right to strike, central to ILO conventions and declarations.

 Sharan Burrow, general secretary of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said:

“The labour law changes will lead to further informalization of the Indian workforce and deny millions of workers fundamental workers’ rights, social security and protection. It is not acceptable, that dignity and decent work is destroyed in India; this must change.

“We need a recovery with a new social contract, with the resilience of social protection, jobs and inclusive development framework. At this moment, the Indian trade union movement’s courage is extraordinary. People around the world admire the tenacity and courage of Indian unions standing together. The global trade union movement reaffirms the solidarity with the Indian unions.”

Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said:

“India’s fragile labour market regulatory framework has been exposed as the poor Covid -19 responses has had devastating impact on working people. During lockdown, hundreds and thousands of workers lost their livelihood and suffered while walking back to their homes from Indian cities. When factories resumed operations, a series of industrial accidents killed more than a hundred workers.

“Instead of strengthening existing laws, the law changes pushed forward against the backdrop of multiple crises will only benefit corporate interests and perpetuate informality and inequality in India. IndustriALL Indian affiliates are on the forefront against the antiworker policies of the government. IndustriALL stands shoulder to shoulder with the Indian union movement in their just struggle.”

G Sanjeeva Reddy, president, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) said:

"Since its inception, the Modi government has worked against workers’ interests. The government gains its political strength from divisive communal politics combined with crony corporate interests. Only through the steadfast struggle, can the Indian working people defeat this government.

"Indian trade unions cutting across political differences have formed a united platform for consistent struggles. On 26 November, yet another national strike will be organized to show the Modi government that our relentless struggle will continue."

Webinar participants included Harbhajan Singh Siddu, general secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Manali Shah, national secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and professor Shyam Sundar, labour law expert. The webinar was moderated by Kate Lappin, Asia Pacific regional secretary, Public Services International (PSI).