GUWAHATI, Sept 9 - Terming the passage of The Industrial Disputes (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2017 by the State Legislative Assembly an attempt by the BJP-led regime to suppress the working class movement in Assam, major trade unions have said they will undertake agitation programmes against the Bill as well as other �anti-labour� policies of both the Centre and the State government.
Senior leaders of various trade unions told The Assam Tribune that the Bill, raising �the threshold on number of employees from 100 to 300 to allow retrenchment of employees without seeking prior approval of the government�, means union activities will virtually cease to exist in the State.
The Bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly on Thursday with the support of all parties in the House. Only Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed opposed it and staged a walkout.
�The Bill is part of the BJP�s attempt to weaken the workers� movement and give a free hand to the corporate houses, owners and industrialists. Very few industries and other establishments in Assam have over 300 workers or employees,� said Ramen Das, secretary of the Assam unit of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).
He said the BJP regimes in both Delhi and Dispur are following the same �neo-liberal� economic policies like their Congress predecessors.
Das also admitted that absence of representation from the Left forces in the Assembly has also allowed the BJP, in conjunction with the Congress and other parties, to easily pass the �anti-labour legislation�.
�We will launch a massive agitation against the Bill as well as against other such anti-worker policies of the government,� said the AITUC leader.
Subhash Sen, secretary of the State unit of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), said a deliberate attempt is being made to silence the voice of the workers and �turn them into mute machines�.
�Less than one per cent of industrial units or other establishments in Assam have 300 employees or workers. So the passage of the Bill is very dangerous and will affect lakhs of people in the State. It is unfortunate that Labour and Employment Minister Pallab Lochan Das, who himself hails from the tea community, tabled the Bill,� he said.
He said while the Bill has not mentioned the word �lockout�, the threat of closure will hang over the employees like Damocles� sword.
�The BJP and Congress are the same as far as economic policies are concerned. They both want to weaken the working class movement. The BJP at the Centre is even planning to abolish the Labour Ministry. But we will stage a protest against the Bill as part of the joint action of various trade unions planned for later this year,� added Sen.
Many trade union leaders rued the fact that the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which has substantial strength, has refused to be part of the unified action of the unions on many issues.
Tapan Sarma, Assam State secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said the BJP has shown its real face with the passage of this Bill.
�In the name of parivartan (change), the BJP has revealed that it is the executor of policies initiated by the previous Congress regimes. Now labour laws will be invariably weakened. Of the 32,000 odd registered industries in Assam, very few have more than 300 employees. Without labour law, there will be unrest and it will hamper productivity,� he said.
Sarma admitted that weakness of the Left parties has also �emboldened the BJP and is allowing it to adopt anti-labour policies�. �The passage of the Bill will definitely be now one of the issues during our countrywide agitation planned for November,� Sarma said.