GUWAHATI, May 11 - Extending their support to the call made by Trade Unions and Employee Federations, labourers working in various sectors in Assam on Monday registered their protest against the �anti-labourer� policy of the State government.
According to a statement issued by the Assam State Committee of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the labourers took part in the protest programme in their respective places of work following lockdown norms. The protesting labourers displayed placards voicing their demands.
The reaction from the labourer community came following a recent decision of the State Council of Ministers to introduce fixed-term employment, increase the duty shift from eight to 12 hours during the COVID-19 period, increase the minimum number of workers for implementation of the Contract Labour Act and increase the minimum number of workers for implementation of the Factories Act.
The CITU alleged that the State government�s move would affect every labourer, especially in the prevailing medical emergency situation.
All trade unions of Assam today submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister demanding immediate withdrawal of the decision taken recently.
Meanwhile, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Assam said the decision will push a large segment of working class people towards slavery, if not deal a death blow to the poor and marginalised workers.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, the organisation�s president Ajoy Dutta said the State Cabinet�s argument that the decision would create more scope for employment is a mere eyewash, the real motive being to help the industry owners have their way in matters of contracts and working hours.
�The State Cabinet has taken a very dangerous decision completely ignoring decades of labour movement the world over. With little regard to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention and turning blind to the plight of workers in the COVID-19 triggered situation, the government has given an upper hand to the industries to adopt a �hire and fire� approach towards workers,� Dutta said.
As per the government proposal, the number of minimum employees for implementation of the Factories Act 1948 has been doubled from existing figures for various categories of factories. It needs mention that factories with fewer employees have been exempted from the norm.
The HMS argued that this will give ample scope for manipulation to the industrialists, who will cause false labour force �break-ups� in order to derive maximum benefit from the exemption.
Coming down heavily on the introduction of fixed-term employment and increasing shift duty for workers from eight hours to 12 hours, the organisation said that appointment of fixed workers for specific works will make workers and labourers suffer.
�Already pushed to the margins due to the pandemic, the workers will now be hired on a use-and-throw basis, with their social and job security cover shrinking like never before. To top it, increasing the shift hours from eight to 12 hours is a blatant violation of the ILO convention. The government has totally violated the concept of May Day in the month of May 2020,� Dutta lamented.
The HMS also condemned the change in the minimum number of workers for implementation of the Contract Labour Act from 20 to 50, asking the government to review and revoke its decision.
Meanwhile, a number of conscious citizens including Member of Parliament Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, journalist Manjit Mahanta and social worker Meera Borthakur have also opposed the government decision to increase shift hours and changes in the Contract Labour Act.