People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 16

April 16, 2006

Yet Another Attack On Labour


The secretariat of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) issued the following statement on April 11, 2006


RIGHT from the time the Supreme Court pronounced its August 2004 verdict denying the workers their right to strike, the trade union movement had unanimously urged the government to step in and take steps to undo the pernicious impact of the said judgement. Successive governments at the centre paid no heed to the trade union plea and persisted with their indifference towards labour rights. This has, in a way, emboldened the judiciary to tinker with the hard earned rights of workers by way of verdicts, one after another, the latest in the series being the one delivered by the apex court on Monday, proclaiming that a daily wage earner, even after years of toil in the same job, cannot claim the right to regular employment in a case filed by Karnataka government. Only a few days back, another bench of the same court blessed the governments with unlimited powers to abolish departments and posts with no liability towards rehabilitation or social security of the affected work force.


Today, the single undeniable fact is that the employer engaging largest number of workers on contract or non-permanent basis is the government itself. If the present provisions in the legislation for abolition of contract labour system in jobs of permanent or perennial nature were to be applied in such cases, the governments/government undertakings would be the most conspicuous violator of the law. The apex court judgement precisely legitimises such violations by upholding the right of the governments to engage workers on a daily basis for years on with no end with no obligation to regularise their services. It has, unfortunately, erred in to note that nature of job (permanent or temporary) and mode of payment (daily or monthly) are two distinct aspects of wage employment. It appears that the apex court had taken upon itself the task of ushering in 'hire and fire regime', a familiar plea from the reformers' corner. In pre-reform period, the judiciary had in several instances leaned on the directive principles of state policy in the Constitution to protect the interests of the weaker of the two classes in conflict viz. labour. Now, the judiciary goes overboard the liberalisation bandwagon, throwing to winds the basic human right to dignified employment and decent work environment.


The CITU regrets this anti-labour mindset that has descended on the judiciary and demands of the government to take immediate steps to negate their harmful impact of this and similar other judgements. (INN)