No guarantee of rights

Same as last year

Workers' rights violations

Repressive laws

Hundreds of workers protested in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, on 22 and 23 August 2022 against the government’s new labour laws that consolidate 44 labour laws into four codes. The new labour codes, which cover wage regulation, industrial relations, social security and occupational safety, and health and working conditions, would deprive workers of their basic rights to go on strike, to form unions and to bargain with management.

The demonstrations were held ahead of a meeting with all of India’s labour ministers in the state of Andhra Pradesh intended to discuss the formulation and implementation of rules under the labour laws. Union leaders submitted a memorandum to the district administration after the rally, raising concerns over the new labour codes, which seek to weaken workers’ rights while promoting companies’ interests.

Despite strong opposition from unions across India, the Modi government held an all-states meeting on 25 and 26 August to ensure that state governments enforce the new codes.

Violent attacks on workers

In India, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officers baton-charged contract workers employed by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) on 22 August 2022. The CISF was trying to disperse a demonstration at the gates of the power station in Ramagundam, Peddapalli district, in Telangana. The workers were protesting to demand that management negotiate a new work agreement. More than 20 protestors were injured and sent to hospital.

The NTPC workers had organised a meeting under the direction of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) to protest the management’s negligence over implementing the wage agreement, which had been pending for the past four years. Workers tried to make their way to the gate after the meeting to protest.

Right to civil liberties

In India, Mrinal Kanti Shome, the General Secretary of the Assam Majoori Shramik Union (AMSU) was arrested on 22 May 2022, together with Dharitri Sharma, the Cachar District Committee Secretary of the AMSU. The two men had been at the forefront of protests by tea estate workers at the Dolu tea estate against the illegal acquisition of land for the new Silchar Airport. Nearly 2,000 workers stood to lose their jobs if the acquisition went ahead.

Mrinal Kanti Shome was questioned without any warrant or order and detained for nearly 30 hours without food. Criminal charges were then brought against him for “inciting protests”.

Right to civil liberties

In India, police detained 19 people, all members and leaders of the Surat Diamond Workers’ Union (SDWU) and took them to Katargam police station on 2 October 2022. The union had announced it would organise a rally on Gandhi Jayanti day, from Katargam to Hirabaug in Varachha, to press for various demands. The arrests took place before they could even begin the rally. The union’s state president Ramesh Jileria, Surat unit president Bhavesh Tank and the president of the Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in Gujarat, Naishad Desai, were among those present. They were released in the evening.

Among the workers’ and trade unions’ demands were legal protections for diamond workers under labour laws and the abolition of professional taxes on diamond polishers. Katargam police said they had detained the organisers and other members because permission for the rally had been denied for reasons of “law and order”.

Union busting

On 14 April 2022, the Mumbai Labour Union (MLU) in India submitted a charter of demands on behalf of its 3,500 members to management at Viraj Steel Limited, but management refused to negotiate. Shortly afterwards, 52 security guards in plant No.1, all members of the MLU, were transferred to another plant.

At the beginning of May, the MLU announced a strike for 16 May, citing harassment of union members, reduction in salary, lack of basic facilities like drinking water, chairs, tables, canteen facilities and toilets, as well as physical assaults on union members by thugs employed by management.

On 7 May, management at Viraj Steel Limited tried to hire contract workers at plant No.1, where permanent workers had previously been employed. The permanent workers tried to stop the contractor and contract workers from entering the workplace. In response, the employer filed a complaint with the police against the union representatives. The general secretary of the MLU and 70 representatives were arrested, and were still in police custody more than two weeks later.

Union busting

Over 350 workers, members of the Indian Yamaha Motors Labour Association (IYMLA), began a sit-in strike at the India Yamaha Motors factory in Sriperumbudur near Chennai, India on 11 October 2022, in protest at management’s consistent refusal to recognise their union.

IYMLA members were demanding management hold wage talks with their union. Instead, the company management organised with the State Labour Department to sign a wage agreement with the company-supported minority union.

Workers excluded from labour protections

In India, it was very difficult for informal workers to register trade unions. According to the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), informality was increasing in the country and informal workers, including street vendors, were left unprotected by law, with no social security and no space to carry out their work in the continuing development of cities. Police often reprimanded trade union leaders when they raised issues regarding the labour protection of street vendors.

Dismissals for participating in strike action

In India, the management of Slam Clothing Pvt Ltd., which has a factory near Chennai, locked out 150 workers, following the demand of the Garment and Fashion Workers Union (GAFWU) for the payment of outstanding wages. Instead of engaging with the union or approaching the government for permission to close the factory as required under the law, the management chose to block workers from entering the factory. The management also forged workers’ signatures on resignation letters.

GAFWU raised the matter of the illegal lock-out with the Labour Commissioner’s office. Due to the management’s refusal to take part in the conciliation process, no agreement was reached between the management and the workers. Thus, the Labour Commissioner’s office referred the matter to an industrial tribunal for adjudication. On 6 August 2022, the industrial tribunal awarded reinstatement of the 150 workers illegally locked out by the management, along with payment of back wages and seniority benefits.

Workers’ rights in law

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