May Day Call - Workers Manifesto 2024

The May Day Call of AICCTU!

The Workers Manifesto – 2024

Overthrow the Fascist Modi Regime!

Fight for Workers Rights and Dignity!

The 2024 Loksabha Elections are declared. The election will be held in 7 phases from April 19 to June 1. As the most populous nation of the world with an estimated population of 143 crores, the people prepare to elect the next government. It is important for every citizen to arrive at an informed decision that should uphold the well being of people over money and muscle power of the ruling forces.

Last 10 years of the BJP regime led by Narendra Modi has been disastrous for the working population of the country. The BJP has used its majority strength inside the parliament to implement policies that facilitate profit mongering of the corporates at the cost of economic well being and rights of the people. Four anti-worker Labour Codes designed for decimating legal rights of workers are passed by the parliament. Unemployment rates and price rise are skyrocketing while real wages of people are steeply declining. Bulldozer governance that displace people from their houses and livelihood options has become the symbol of the Modi regime. International institutions estimate that India has 94% of its workforce as informal workers. These workers are not only out of any formal contract with the employer, but also are deprived of any social security measure. The precarity of the Indian working class was witnessed in its nudity during the two years of pandemic Lockdown. The fact that Indian workers who toil to keep the country’s economy running are the first ones to be dispensed off when a crisis hit. It was much more clear than ever as millions of workers were retrenched from jobs within hours of declaration of the Lockdown and were forced to walk thousands of kilometres to reach their villages as no social protection was accessible to them. The essential anti-worker and pro-corporate nature of the ruling regime was further exposed as the Modi government found an opportunity in the disaster to adopt the anti-worker Labour Codes.

As the next Loksabha election is around the corner and the workers who have been at the receiving end of the anti-worker policies of the ruling government for last 10 years get an opportunity to use their right to vote to demand a dignified life.

Withdraw the Anti-Worker Labour Codes:

In September 2020, as the country was still crippling under the devastating impact of the Lockdown, the Modi led BJP government passed three labour codes - the Industrial Relations Code, Code on Social Security and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code. The Code on Wages was passed by the parliament in 2019 itself. These codes were supposed to replace 44 existing labour laws that were formulated assimilating several demands of the working class movement for over a century to ensure rights for the working class.

The Code on Wages passed by the present government provides several provisions for employers to escape payment of minimum wages to the workers. It introduces the concept of floor wage which is much lower than minimum wages. The Code dilutes enforceability of minimum wages. This code also opens up avenues for violating the principle of 8 hour work-day accepted internationally. It facilitates overwork without payment of overtime wages.

The Code on Industrial Relations (IR) is designed to facilitate employers to terminate workers without any notice or accountability. It institutionalizes the regime of hire and fire, thus destroying any semblance of industrial democracy. It introduces the concept of ‘fixed term’ employment that necessarily makes permanent jobs a distant dream for the majority of the workforce in India. This Code also weakens the workers’ right to unionisation and recognition of trade unions to negotiate with the employer for their rights and benefits. The IR Code significantly weakens measures of redressal for workers in case of violation of rights. Under this Code, the labour courts are done away with and the government has been given a significant amount of power to overturn decisions of the Industrial Tribunals.

The Code on Social Security entails a massive crackdown on existing provisions of social security for workers. For example, this code makes all existing social measures like ESI, PF, gratuity, pension, maternity benefit and other benefits dependent upon notification by central and state governments. In fact, the Code makes the workers responsible for their own social security relieving the employers of the same. This code also excludes a huge number of workers from being covered under social security and reduces employer’s liability towards the social security funds such as ESI and PF.

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Condition Code is probably the most elaborate one in diluting existing provisions of occupational safety. The code not only dilutes the provision of defining hazardous work, but also excludes around 80 percent of the workforce from the purview of the codes. This code enables the employer to refuse proper working conditions to its own workforce to such an extent that the employer is now being relieved of the responsibility of providing mandatory creche.

In totality, the four codes, if implemented, will give a free hand to the employers and corporates to exploit workers by denying proper wages, social security and dignified working conditions. The workers and farmers of the country have time and again demanded withdrawal of the four disastrous Codes.

Ensure Minimum Wages at the Rate of Rs 35,000 per month: The union government has not fulfilled its mandate to revise minimum wages prevailing in the country for more than five years as mandated by the law. Given the present situation of standard of living of Indian workers as well as of reducing access to health and education, the basic rate of minimum wages must be increased to Rs 35,000 per month. All workers including scheme, platform, domestic and other informal workers must be brought under the purview of minimum wages.

Restore the Old Pension Scheme: In 2004, the BJP led government withdrew the pension scheme that ensures old age pension at the rate of 50 percent of last drawn salary. Under the New Pension Scheme, the possibility of a secured pension after retirement has been done away with. The NPS not only makes old age pension vulnerable to market fluctuations, but also provides only a pittance in the name of pension which is much lesser than the pension under the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). Right to a dignified and secured future of Indian workers must be the basis of policy making and not corporate profit mongering. The OPS must be brought back for every salaried person. For all other workers, including workers under EPS 95, a monthly pension at the minimum rate of Rs 10,000 per month linked with DA must be ensured.

Health Insurance and Provident Fund for All Worker: Access to health insurance guaranteed by the government like the ESI must be made accessible to all workers including workers in the unorganised and informal sector. Likewise, the benefits of PF, the retirement benefit, shall also be made available to all workers including unorganised and informal workers.

Recognise Dignified Employment as Fundamental Right : Employment with dignified wages, working conditions and social security must be recognised as a fundamental right of every Indian citizen in the working age population. An Urban Employment Guarantee Act must be enacted and the scope of MNREGA must be expanded to 200 days per year with wages of Rs. 600 per day. The government must not be allowed to ignore the serious situation of unemployment in the country.

Stop Demolitions, the Recognise Right to Housing: Dignified proper housing for everyone must be guaranteed. The new government must prohibit demolition of houses without proper rehabilitation in nearby areas. Proper accommodation must be provided for every working person near the area of their present residence or work.

Roll Back National Monetisation Pipeline, Stop Selling Out Public Sector Undertakings: The last 10 years of Narendra Modi led union government can definitely be identified as a regime of privatisation of the country’s infrastructure and public sector undertakings which we built over decades to become a self reliant, independent country. The Modi government has introduced a scheme of National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) which is essentially a design to sell out the country’s major infrastructure to private corporate companies. Railways, defense, roads and power sector comprises 66% of the total monetisation scheme. It is well known that these sectors generate the largest employment in the country. The other sectors designated by the government to be handed over to private hands are telecom, aviation, ports, natural gas, petroleum product, warehouses and stadiums. By selling out these major sectors that have been the source of a large number of employment, the Modi government is not only planning to destroy these sectors for facilitating private profit mongering, but also ensure that they no longer remain a source of jobs that the youth of India aspire for. We are already seeing massive unrest among the youth against non-fulfillment of posts in railways and other government sectors.

Along with NMP, the plan of disinvestment through which the government has announced to withdraw public investment from PSUs and open up Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) for purchase by corporates. This reckless act of privatisation is destined to cause a havoc in the lives of youths by denying them a scope for any dignified employment. The Adani Group, a well known favourite of the present regime, is offered relaxation in all rules to handover coal production in the country.

The National Monetisation Pipeline and proposal of Disinvestment must be rolled back. The proposal of Foreign Direct Investment in all sectors including defence must be rolled back. The government must be held accountable for maintaining the country’s major production and infrastructural resources. Future of the country's economic well being and opportunities of dignified employment must not be compromised for the sake of profit mongering corporates.

Recognise Scheme Workers, Domestic Workers and Platform Workers as “Workers” with Associated Benefits: More than one crore scheme workers are running major schemes of the government for primary health, education, childcare and nutrition. Yet, these workers are denied any legal rights and are not even recognised as “workers” by the union government despite street protests throughout the country by millions of scheme workers. Similarly, domestic and platform workers are also denied any legal right. While the government continues to propagate that these workers can be included under social security schemes in the new codes, the reality is that no employer-employee relation has been recognised and the government continues to deny their basic rights such as minimum wages, health insurance and social security. The scheme workers must be recognised as government employees and their rights including wages and other benefits must be guaranteed on par with government employees. Right to minimum wages, ESI, PF, pension and other benefits must be recognised for domestic workers and platform workers as well.

Fulfil All Vacant Government Positions, Halt Contractualisation: Around 30 lakh government positions are lying vacant as per latest reports. In the last ten years, the Modi government has systematically destroyed the employment in various ways, including surrender of posts, unfilling vacancies and by delaying any recruitment. Rampant corruption and paper leaks in recruitment exams have also become a normal in the present regime. Rather than filling vacant positions, the present government has introduced rampant and indiscriminate contractualisation, even in such an important department like army where the national security is the most important concern. Agnipath scheme is not an exemption but a rule. Fixed term employment is another form of creating insecure jobs with hire and fire as a norm. This trend must be reversed. All vacant government positions must be filled immediately and all contractual workers must be regularised. The ratio of permanent and irregular workforce in any department or industry shall be fixed.

Indian Workers Being Exiled to War-torn Countries

Recently, several reports appear detailing of usage of Indian Labour in the war. The workers are being exported to war-torn countries like Israel in the name of employment opportunities through agreements between governments. The working class should oppose all such attempts by the Modi-led BJP government.

Revoke UAPA, Stop Criminalising Workers

The Modi led BJP government is indiscriminately and brutally throttling all voices of democracy. New Labour Codes also allow using black laws like UAPA and new criminal laws against the working class. Some such attempt to jail drivers for 7 years confronted a massive strike and resistance which ultimately forced the government to put the section on hold. One does not know if it is only until elections. Some workers in reliance power company in Mumbai were put behind bars under UAPA. New criminal laws are bound to be invoked against toiling masses in the coming days. The government should be halted from such brutal usage of black laws including UAPA and new criminal laws.

Punish Perpetrators of Communal Violence and Hate Mongering: We have seen in the last ten years how hate speeches targeting Muslims and subsequent communal violence have rocked different parts of the country. In most of the cases, the perpetrators are given freehand to spread communal venom. State institutions have remained mute spectators, and on several occasions become protectors of the hate mongers and rioters. The state is playing the politics of hate. A Government that has unleashed a policy regime to take away hard earned rights of workers, has been consistently trying to create division among the working population in the name of their religion, caste, food choices and festivals. The state must stop protecting communal rioters and acts against those who spew communal venom and spread rumours creating communal hatred.

Let the Lok Sabha Election, 2024 become an opportunity to claim the rights of workers and to hold the betrayers of people accountable.

Save the Democracy!

Save the Constitution!

Save the Workers!

Strengthen the left and democratic voice in the Lok Sabha elections 2024!

Defeat the Modi led BJP Government!