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Indian electronics workers unite amid industry challenges

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17 June, 2024In India’s tech hub, Bangalore, union representatives from the electronics sector met for a workshop on organizing and union building in the ICT, electrical, and electronics sector. The event aimed to empower workers and strengthen unions across India's electronics supply chain.

Participants delved into discussions about their respective companies, products, and workforce dynamics. The dialogue brought to light the stark contrast between permanent and precarious workers. A key focus was the impact of technological changes in factories, and the extent of union involvement in negotiations over training, reskilling and the employment of contract workers. The importance of including precarious workers in union activities and collective bargaining agreements was strongly emphasised, alongside the importance of unions staying informed and involved in technological transitions to ensure fair treatment for all workers.

Participants received updates on human rights due diligence and international tools to strenghten organizing, collective bargaining, and occupational safety and health (OSH) practices. Particular attention was given to the EU's new corporate sustainability due diligence directive and its potential benefits for unions in India.

The second day saw union activists exploring the effects of automation and artificial intelligence on jobs. Strategies for upskilling and reskilling the workforce were debated, highlighting the future challenges for unions and workers amidst rapid technological advancements.

Debates on OSH issues in the sectors were equally active. Discussions covered the functioning of safety committees, recent accidents, and union follow-up actions. The need for regular, comprehensive safety training was emphasised, with suggestions for improving current practices.

Participants prepared an action plan focused on organizing and networking. Participants brainstormed ways to increase union density, empower unions and organise precarious workers. Strategies to integrate other unions into the network and boost youth and women's participation in union activities were also discussed.

Delegates left with a collective vision and new strategies to strengthen their unions and improve the lives of workers across India's ICT, electrical, and electronics sectors.

“It has been two days of very intensive debates and our delegates left united in a common cause. The lessons learned and bonds formed will ripple through the supply chains of multinational companies, fostering a culture of fairness, transparency, and respect for labour rights in India,”

says Alexander Ivanou, IndustriALL director of ICT, electrical and electronics sector.