Coronavirus can't be excuse to exploit workers, crush their rights: Rahul

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised concerns over human right being compromised in the name of fighting coronavirus
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said many states were amending labour laws, but the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic could not be an excuse to exploit workers, suppress their voice and crush their human rights.

Gandhi said the basic principles could not be compromised by allowing unsafe workplaces. "Many states are amending labour laws. We are together fighting against corona, but this cannot be an excuse to crush human rights, allow unsafe workplaces, exploit workers and suppress their voice," he said. "There cannot be any compromise on these basic principles."

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also said it would be dangerous and disastrous if labour, land, and environmental laws were loosened in the name of economic revival and stimulus. "In the name of economic revival and stimulus, it will be dangerous and disastrous to loosen labour, land, and environmental laws and regulations as the Modi government is planning.

अनेक राज्यों द्वारा श्रमकानूनों में संशोधन किया जा रहा है। हम कोरोना के खिलाफ मिलकर संघर्ष कर रहे हैं, लेकिन यह मानवाधिकारों को रौंदने, असुरक्षित कार्यस्थलों की अनुमति, श्रमिकों के शोषण और उनकी आवाज दबाने का बहाना नहीं हो सकता। इन मूलभूत सिद्धांतों पर कोई समझौता नहीं हो सकता।

Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 11, 2020
"The first steps have already been taken. This is a quack remedy like demonetisation," Ramesh tweeted.

The Madhya Pradesh government under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on May 5 exempted as many as 11 categories of industries from the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Relations (MPIR) Act of 1961. The categories include textile, leather, cement, iron and steel, electrical goods, sugar, electricity, public motor transport, engineering, and the manufacture of motor vehicles.

File photo of labourers loading sacks on to a truck at a grain market during the nationwide lockdown, in Bikaner.  Photo: PTI

The state government has said “the validity of licence will be for the period as applied for” under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) (Madhya Pradesh) Rules, 1973. At present, contractors who help companies get contract workers have to obtain multiple licences for different firms within a state. This licence is applicable for a period of one year and contractors have to pay a fee every time based on the number of workers employed. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970 comes into force when a contractor provides at least 20 contract workers to a company.

The Madhya Pradesh government has disabled the applicability of a majority of provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 for new manufacturing units that will come up in the next 1,000 days. Such companies would no longer be required to seek government permission of to lay off workers, but they will still be required to do so for retrenchment and giving retrenchment compensation to workers, failing which will attract a penalty.

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