Labour law suspension: Uphold India’s international commitments, ILO expresses deep concerns to PM Modi

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Updated: May 25, 2020 7:45 PM

The ILO's intervention came after ten central trade unions escalated the issue of suspension and tweaking of labour laws with the international body through a letter on May 14, 2020. 

India has inked many conventions with ILO which commensurate with the existing legal system and laws of the land.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) assured 10 central unions that it has expressed deep concerns over the suspension and tweaking of labour laws by states to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Besides, the ILO has also urged the Prime Minister to send a clear message to central and state governments to uphold India’s international commitments (conventions based on labour laws) and engage in social dialogue.

The ILO’s intervention came after ten central trade unions escalated the issue of suspension and tweaking of labour laws with the international body through a letter on May 14, 2020.

In a reply to the unions on May 22, the ILO said, “Please allow me to assure you the ILO DG has immediately intervened, expressing his deep concerns at these recent events and appealing to the Prime Minister to send a clear message to Central and State Governments to uphold the country’s international commitments and encourage engagement of effective social dialogue”.

The ten central trade unions had asked the ILO DG to intervene immediately with the Indian authorities to urge necessary action for the protection of workers rights in the light of measures being taken by a number of state governments to undermine the labour legislation and international labour standards.

India has inked many conventions with ILO which commensurate with the existing legal system and laws of the land.
A country can ratify a convention with ILO after putting in place all provisions mandated in its laws and legal framework. Thus a change in labour laws or suspending those may lead to violation of these conventions, which are also an international commitments by ratifying nations.

In the meanwhile, the ten central trade unions have also shot off another letter on Monday to the ILO pleading that “at this very turbid and uncertain situation, the ILO must powerfully and effectively intervene to prevail upon the Government of India to refrain from such exercise of abrogation of all basic labour rights unilaterally trampling underfoot the basic concept of social partnership and tripartism as espoused by ILO”.

They have pointed out that the central government is contemplating repealing of Inter State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979. They also mentioned that “Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are ceasing application of Trade union Act, 1926, which is the main plank of Freedom of Association, and Industrial Disputes Act that provides scope for collective bargaining and also right to strike, along with other substantive labour laws for a period of 3 years”. These unions are INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC. There are total 12 central trade unions in the country.

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