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Labour codes, move not to pay workers during natural calamities 'deleterious'

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), a well-known civil rights organization, has strongly protested against the alleged Government of India move to “dilute” decades of working class struggles “which led to 44 legislations regarding minimum wages, fixed hours of work, right to unionization, workers benefits, social security of unorganized sector workers etc.”
Pointing out that this is being done through four labour codes, “which will spell doom for an over-whelming section of the working population”, an NAPM statement, signed by tens of well-known activists, including Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Prafulla Samantara and Sandeep Pandey, also objects to the recent report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the proposed Code on Industrial Relations Bill, which considers “payments to workers during natural calamities would be ‘unjustifiable’.”
Stating that both the “deleterious” moves must be resisted, the statement, issued on the occasion of the May Day, states that what one witnesses today is “a lop-sided, neo-liberal model of extractive development which successive governments have perpetuated.”
“It is no hidden reality that secure, timely wages and eight hours’ work per day is still a distant dream for workers across numerous sectors. However, citing the ‘pandemic’, the attempts of different state governments to push for 12 working hours per day is a huge retrograde step that must be fought tooth and nail”, the statement notes.
Calling “the entire episode” as badly “planned and horribly executed” during the lockdown, the statement says, it brings to light “other significant issues such as the equal right of migrant workers to be at home, to travel back in trains, food security regardless of documentation etc.”, adding, “The order of the Union Home Ministry allowing for road return and now partial rail return of migrant workers is too little, too late.”
It is no hidden reality that secure, timely wages and eight hours’ work per day is still a distant dream for workers across numerous sectors  
“While we welcome the announcement for ‘Shramik Special Trains’, we call upon the government to increase the number of these trains across various routes/states and also ensure that the burden of payment of train ticket is not on the already impoverished worker but is owned up by the contractor and the State, in terms of the provisions of the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1967”, the statement insists.
The statement has been issued following a national e-seminar on ‘Workers’ Rights: Dignity, Justice and Pro-People Development’, in which activists Medha Patkar, Richa Singh, P Chennaiah, Prasanna Heggodu, Dr Sunilam, Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan and others participated.
The seminar worked out a series of demands from the government, including the need to roll back the attempts to dilute the labour laws, free and safe return of all migrant workers, universalization of the Public Distribution system, and full payment to workers during the lockdown period.

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