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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Govt to stay off core ILO conventions:

The Union government has clearly said it would not ratify two core International Labour Organization conventions, which allow all workers to form unions and to strike work. The statement by the government in Parliament yesterday has trade unions up in arms.
The clarification came from Union labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha to a question by a Communist Party of India member from West Bengal, R C Singh, who asked why the government did not ratify ILO conventions 98 and 87 on the right to form a workers union.
He also inquired whether the lack of a decision was causing disputes over recognition of trade unions by managements and how the government intended to address the issue,
Kharge said, “Ratification would involve granting certain rights to government employees.”
The minister said unions in India were governed by central and state statutes and were not dependent on ratification of ILO conventions. “Government is not ratifying ILO Conventions 87 and 98 as ratification would involve granting of certain rights to government employees against the statutory rules,” he said.
Adding: “Government employees in India enjoy exceptionally high degree of job security, flowing from Article 311 of our Constitution (which provides safeguards against dismissal of any state employee).” Kharge said government employees also have access to grievance redressal mechanisms under the Joint Consultative Machinery and the administrative tribunals.
“The guarantees provided for under those conventions are, by and large, available to industrial workers in India by means of Constitutional provisions, laws, regulations and practices,” Kharge said.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh national president Saji Narayanan said the union condemned the stand taken by the government on the core labour rights of collective bargaining and formation of trade unions. Narayanan, a representative of the trade unions from India in the ILO, said India has not ratified four of the eight core ILO conventions, the other two being on minimum wage and elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
In fact, the Global Report of ILO, 2010, mentions India and the US as key countries with a poor track record on ratifying conventions.
C87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and C98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949) are two core conventions which are very important for the protection of workers’ rights and social dialogue. “One of the first labour laws in the country is the Trade Union Act of 1926. Still, after nearly 85 years, it is shameful for the country that it has not ratified the related ILO conventions,’’ said Narayanan.
All India Trade Union Congress deputy general secretary H Mahadevan said we need not call ourselves a democracy if we cannot allow our workers the right to demand their entitlements.
“I have told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier that the government should make a plan of action on how obstacles to ratification of these core conventions can be removed. It is a shame if we approve these conventions with other nations and then refuse to legalize them in our own country. Our credibility is very low because of this,’’ he said

Source: Business Standard, March 12, 2011

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