Worker working in factory
Worker working in factory
Kateryna Babaieva

The Central Government's decision to freeze the dearness allowance (DA) till July next year has faced much criticism. Joining this opposition is Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union affiliated with the RSS. This issue is one among the 19 points that the trade union is planning to raise with Minister of State for Labour Santosh Gangwar.

BMS, national president, Saji Narayanan confirming the meet with the minister shared the 19 points. "BMS opposes unilateral decision on DA freezing. Low-wage employees should be exempted from freezing." He added Labour Ministry should write to states to immediately stop such massive pay cuts. Kerala is one among the many states which are compulsorily cutting a total of one month’s salary (six days salary per month for five months) through an ordinance.

While nearly 14 state governments have opted for pay cuts, the central government has resorted to DA freeze. "No guarantee is being given whether the amount so withheld will be returned or when it will be returned, " Narayanan added.

Highlighting the plight of pensioners, he said, "Those retiring during the lockdown should be paid pension by calculating the additional DA which is freezed at present." He urged the government to give EPF pensioners who are getting below Rs 3, 000 at least a relief of Rs 1, 000. "No cut should be made from the pension."

While BMS spoke about government employees, their focus was on migrant workers. Over 93 per cent of the unorganised sector workers spread over the country especially in the villages are facing the pinch. "Directions should be given to local bodies to protect their livelihood, " he added.

He urged the government to incentivise the movement of labourers back to the workplace rather than making any forceful norms. These incentives can include cash incentives, electronic passes, free train tickets etc. "Wherever employers have a good relationship with workers, workers will not flee away. Many are fleeing as they are not treated properly. Industrial associations, trade unions, government officials and local elected representatives should collectively undertake a campaign to retain labour at the workplaces itself. Building confidence and trust should be the top priority to start industrial work, " the trade union stated.

Narayanan also pointed out in the quest to attract more foreign companies based in China, India should not become a good substitute for undemocratic characteristics in the "mad run to provide cheap labour".

States that have raised the working hours are in a way adopting to norms that are against ILO conventions and the existing labour laws. "India should be a model to other countries in respecting International Labour Standards set by ILO, " added Narayanan.

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