The Modi government passed three key labour laws on 22 and 23 September 2020 through undemocratic means, fundamentally rewriting Indian labour laws. The laws included the Code on Industrial Relations, the Code on Social Security, and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions. The legislation was passed in Parliament without debate, as opposition parties were boycotting the house.
A coalition of trade union centres have criticised many features of the new laws, noting three key faults. The Code on Social Security did not make social security a universal right, leaving millions of people without clear social protection. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code excluded huge areas of the economy, including agriculture, which employs 50 per cent of the total working population of India. The Industrial Relations Code protected industry at the cost of working people, in violation of the Constitution, by restricting the definition of “worker” and severely limiting the right to strike and the ability of working people to participate in a collective bargaining process.
Central trade unions in India came together in massive nationwide protests on 23 September, gathering millions.