Kerala TUs call for general strike on April 2

Acting swiftly to protest against the Centre's order permitting companies to ‘hire-and-fire' by opening up the contract labour rules, trade unions have called for a general strike in the Sate on April 2.

The Coordination Committee of Central Trade Unions in Kerala, which held an urgent meeting here on Thursday evening, called upon all trade unions to strike work on April 2 in protest against the March 16 Central order. The coordination committee has urged the Baharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the labour wing of the ruling BJP, to lend support to the strike.

The decision to call the strike was taken by CITU State general secretary Elamaram Karim, INTUC State president R. Chandrasekharan, AITUC secretary K.P. Rajendran, STU State president Ahmedkutty Unnikulam, and HMS State president M.K. Kannan. The leaders were in Kozhikode to address a meeting held as part of the CITU general council.

Appeasing companies

Mr. Karim told The Hindu that the Centre's “blatant, unilateral and arrogant” Gazette notification, which came to public notice on March 20, was a shock to the unions. It was also shocking because Parliament, though it was in session, was not consulted or informed of such an important issue. “Institutionalising contract labour is an atrocious step by the Modi government to appease the corporate employers,”Mr. Karim alleged. “This will turn the industrial labour into slave workers and take away the collective bargaining power of the trade unions.”

The new labour rule, announced through the March 16 Gazette, allow companies to employ workers on contract for a fixed term. The companies would not need to serve any termination notice on the workers irrespective of the period for which they were employed. The workers would not be entitled for notice-period salary if the contract is terminated, either.

The government has made hiring and firing contract labour easier by extending the labour contract rules of 2016 applicable to the textile and apparel industry. It is replacing “fixed-term-employment workmen in apparel manufacturing sector in the Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Central Rules 1946 with “fixed-term employment.”

2003 experiment

The Vajpayee government had in 2003 introduced such a rule which had faced stiff opposition from the trade unions. It was later scrapped by the Manmohan Singh government.

Mr. Karim said that by calling for a general strike for April 2, the trade unions in Kerala were leading the nation in unleashing a wave of protest against the order.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 3:24:43 am |