“New Labour Code for New India”: Continued lies by the Modi Government as it attacks the Working Class
Frontline workers employed in Victoria hospital as housekeeping staff, ward attenders, lift operators, Data entry operators and security, have not been paid their wages for October 2021. Victoria Hospital was a dedicated COVID-19 facility, and these workers worked throughout the first and second wave of COVID-19. The wages for the month of September had also been delayed and was only paid on 31st October.
The Propaganda March of Sanitation Workers
Sanitation work is a dehumanising occupation and is one that is reserved for the Dalit community across the country. Sanitation workers are not merely individual members of this workforce out of pure choice; but members, by birth, with inerasable identity and inter-generational continuity. Most sanitation workers are women, and are victims of triple oppression, by virtue of their class, caste and gender.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) has become the go-to weapon to intimidate and harass anyone opposed to the Modi government’s core agendas of Hindutva and aggressive neo-liberalism. The arrest of lawyers, intellectuals and activists in the Bhima Koregaon case and the institutional murder of Fr. Stan Swamy yet again highlighted the highly draconian nature of the UAPA and the manner in which it is used to stifle any form of dissent.
Domestic work, the labour that goes into running a house, has been probably the most unrecognised labour all over the world, throughout the history. Undermining the human hour invested in reproducing labour that generates the so called ‘value’ in the economy has been the most important tool of exploitation and bondage of women. Unfortunately, employing workers from outside the household for domestic work has not solved the problem of crass exploitation, rather it has added dimensions of class and caste based oppression to it.
On 21st June, 2021, the Minister for Health tweeted that India had administered the highest ever single day coverage across the world, with 86.16 lakh on that day.
This is one more in the series of tall claims made by the Government that are mere manipulation of facts and numbers with little actual impact on the ground.
Central Government has published draft Industrial Relations (Central) Recognition of Negotiating Union or Negotiating Council and Adjudication of Disputes of Trade Unions Rules 2021 on 04/05/2021, seeking comments within 30 days. At the very outset, it well exemplifies the callous attitude of the Government in issuing these Rules at a time when the country is worst hit by the second wave of the COVID Pandemic, with more than 3 lakh deaths across the country.
While everyone is speaking about the doctors and nurses, who are most definitely working on the frontlines and whose services are, of course, laudable during this pandemic, it is necessary for us to remember the frontline workers who are often neglected – the Safai Karamcharis / Sanitation Workers, the D-Group workers in hospitals, ASHA Workers and Crematorium workers.
The Wages Code, 2019 and the Draft Code on Wages (Central) Rules, 2020 puts forward a direct assault on the most fundamental rights of workers. One of these is the right of workers to minimum wages, which this article concentrates on.