New Labour Codes & The Working ClassDecember 27, 2021
New Booklet released in Dec 2021 in Hindi and English by ‘Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan’, platform of 16 revolutionary trade union federations and workers’ organizations across the country.
The Government of India has intensified the attack on the working class, and has converted 44 central labour laws into 4 anti-worker labour codes in accordance with the policies of imperialist globalization, privatization and neo-liberalism. The Centre as well as some state governments has already finalized their rules. These labour codes will be implemented as soon as the rules in accordance with new codes are prepared by all the states.
It is a matter of fact that the process of hollowing out the earlier labour laws of their content was going on for last few decades. Many amendments were made to affect this process. The anti-worker tendency in recent Supreme Court judgments in the explanation of existing laws has become increasingly dominant. Many laws were made blunt and ineffective in implementation on ground. Contract and temporary workers were employed in permanent nature of jobs. The Second Labour Commission that was constituted in 1998 presented its recommendations in 2002, which were mainly anti-worker in nature. After 2004, the then UPA government was not confident to implement the recommendations in full, but it successfully started implementing those in bits and pieces. The anti-worker attitude of the Supreme Court helped this process. But the capitalist class, particularly big monopoly corporate capitalists, was not satisfied with the pace of these pro-capitalist reforms, and they wanted their swift implementation along with other pro-capital policy reforms. The ‘Gujarat model’ and the fascist leader Narendra Modi as its face was more preferable to them compared to the UPA regime under Manmohan Singh for this purpose. We thus find the big corporate backing fascist forces under Modi to form government at the centre in 2014.
Modi government, immediately after coming to power, started a wave of intense attacks on the working class as per to the expectation of monopoly capitalists. Labour laws were being ‘reformed’ against the interests of the workers. New sets of workers without any substantial labour rights were supplied under new provisions of ‘fixed term employment’ and NEEM trainees under ‘Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana’. In its second term, Modi government launched this process more comprehensively. In the Corona period, with the slogan of ‘transforming the crisis into an opportunity’, Modi government made all-round attacks on workers’ rights, the severest of which are the new labour codes. The capitalist class, through nexus with the government and these new codes, conspired to put the workers under stronger shackles of enslavement. Unfortunately, in the absence of a strong and militant working class movement on a national level headed in the correct direction, their plan is getting successful.
There is a historical context of these ‘reforms’. When the labour laws were being made in different countries, including ours, that period was of ascendency and success of militant and revolutionary working class movement. The revolutionary transformation in Russia under the working class leadership took place in 1917, and the process of socialist construction was advancing. This became the centre of hope and inspiration for the exploited and oppressed people worldwide. After Second World War, one third population of the world raised flags of the working class. The capitalist class felt endangered by the militant and revolutionary movement of the working class, and to contain these movements, it was compelled to offer some socio-economic facilities and legal rights and concessions under the so-called ‘welfare state’. But the capitalist class was again on offensive when capitalist restoration took place in Soviet Union, China and in other ‘socialist’ countries. Under the name of globalization, neoliberal capitalism-imperialism made fresh attacks on working class worldwide. Also the deepening crisis in world-capitalist system was an important reason for the capitalists to intensify their fresh attacks on the working class. The undeclared contract between capital and labour in the post-Second World War period collapsed and paved way for neoliberal policies of liberalization-privatization-globalization. It is not surprising that today not only the working class, but entire working masses, including farmers, are facing the direct offensive of monopoly finance capital.
We see that the governments of each country started abandoning the ‘welfare state’ arrangements in and after 1980s and started snatching away the hard-earned rights of the working class. These rights were either made increasingly ineffective or were withdrawn completely. Structural adjustments in economic policies were made accordingly. The Indian Government, with its ‘new economic policy’ in 1991, formally abandoned the arrangements under ‘welfare state’ and it was announced from the walls of power that government is not meant to distribute free-bees. To combat the resistance struggles against these policies, the ruling class not only intensified repressive measures but also backed the propaganda and intervention of reactionary ideologies. The forces of ultra-reactionary and fascist ideas were backed by the monopoly capitalist class to power. The result is that today the government is not only suppressing the voices of working class but the voices of pro-working people, progressive intellectuals and even liberal capitalist intellectuals are also being suppressed. They are being declared anti-national and being put in jails.
Friends and comrades!
The new anti-worker labour codes have made our struggle against the capitalist class more political in nature. It means that the decisive struggle to force withdrawal of these codes is neither like a struggle of other economic demands where a section of working class could settle with a section of capitalist class or factory owners through their struggles, nor it could be a struggle merely to remove the political party in power and make space for another bourgeois political party as no political party of bourgeois domain could withdraw it. Although it does not mean that the importance or the need of the working masses to remove the present fascist government from power is not there. All struggles against fascist forces, big or small, are important now. The important aspect of the struggle against the new labour codes that the working class needs to understand is that this struggle is intricately connected to the historic task of the working class to remove the permanently crisis-ridden capitalist class as the ruling class. Each crisis brings about a wave of fresh attacks from the capitalist-imperialist powers and erodes the previously achieved rights of working masses. For this reason, the importance of political content of working class struggles can more deeply be understood during such crisis. The present offensive of the capitalist-imperialist powers comes out of the irresolvable crisis of world capitalism, and any big political struggle in this period needs to connect to a decisive struggle against all the ruling classes including the capitalist class. It’s imperative for the struggling working class to beware of this aspect.
In this booklet, we on behalf of ‘Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan’ (MASA) have attempted to explain in simple language the ‘reforms’ in labour laws implemented by the new labour codes, so that the worker comrades can understand their deep anti-worker content, get united and launch a continuous, militant and decisive struggle to force the ruling class to completely withdraw the labour codes along with enacting pro-worker legal reforms. To struggle against the anti-worker labour codes is indispensable for the existence of working class today. The need of the hour is stronger class unity and preparation for counter-offensive with maximum possible strength so that this time the fight back of the working class can break the spine of exploitative and oppressive system of the ruling class. Our win must not only be decisive, but should be able to overturn the world-historic retreat of the working class.
NEW LABOUR CODES AND ITS IMPACT ON WORKERS
This is intended as a short leaflet to inform the workers about the changes that are being brought about by the new labour codes being introduced by the Central Government. The rationale being given by the Central Government is that there are 44 Central Laws and many other state laws, and due to so many laws the corporates are not ready to invest in the country. Hence to increase the “ease of doing business” the laws are being consolidated into 4 labour codes viz.
- Code on Wages
- Code on Industrial Relations
- Code on Social Security
- Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions
This is an argument made up of many lies. Firstly there is no evidence to show that having many labour laws will decrease “ease of doing business”. In the UK, where there are 3 countries (England, Scotland and Wales making up Great Britain) and another territory called Northern Ireland, there are over 65 Crown laws (central laws) regulating labour. This is besides the various laws which have been enacted for labour in each of the separate countries / region. Where India has one law (The Equal Remuneration Act) to enforce the principle of “equal pay for equal work” the USA has over 7 or 8 laws on this principle including for differently abled persons etc. Nobody has ever complained about the ease of doing business in the UK and the USA.
The second part of this lie is that the 44 central laws are being consolidated into 4 codes. If this were the only exercise, there would not be so much resistance. What is actually being done is to change the laws to put an end to the permanent workforce, to change the future workforce into fixed term workers, to end collective bargaining, to stop the protection against retrenchment, lay-off and closure, to curtail the rights of contract workers and to enable the de-registration of militant unions.
We will take up these anti-worker amendments one by one. Firstly we take the amendment about Fixed term contracts as this will help to explain the whole philosophy behind the changes in labour laws. But even before we take up this anti-worker measure, we have to understand the historical context of these reforms.
The Historical Context
The trend in industry till the 1970s was to have large factories with integration of different departments of production. This was known as the “assembly-line” system or the “Ford system”. By the 1970s, however, there was a change in this system. It is said that this new system originated in Japan where there was a great pressure on land and therefore the setting up of huge factories was difficult. It is called the “Toyota system”, or “zero inventory system” or “just in time system”. In this system most of the work is outsourced. the final product is broken up into different parts and the manufacturing of the parts is outsourced to different vendors who deliver only a specific number of parts on each day as per the final order book position.
Say on a particular day there are orders for 300 cars. On that day 1500 (300×5) wheels, tyres, hubs etc are provided by different vendors. 600 wipers, headlights, etc are invoiced. All the parts reach at the right time to make 300 cars on that day. Now large factories are not necessary. The different parts can be made in different small factories.
However, a particular day may require only 100 cars and the next week may require 600 cars. This means that the various vendors (and the main plant) require “flexibility” in employment. They may want 1000 workers on one day 500 the next and 6000 the next week. This could only be done in a system of “hire and fire”. The employer must have the capacity to employ all workers (permanent or not) on a contractual basis for a stipulated period.
The new system allowed for a lot of huge lands in the cities to be freed. Textile mills in Mumbai closed down and textile manufacture moved to small sweat shops in Tirupur and Bhiwandi. Large factories in big cities started to close down and manufacturing moved to smaller cities and towns into smaller plants. This released great profits for the employers.
But this was not the main profit of the employer. The breaking up of production also led to a breaking up of workers unity. The big factories had big unions. Now the workers were scattered in small sweatshops spread out all over India. This made it very difficult to organise unions.
Production was outsourced not only in India but also internationally. Some manufacturing activities like cars, steel, and services like IT and ITES etc started being outsourced to India. The New Economic Policy of 1991 increased this trend manifold. The demand of the Indian manufacturers for ending the existing system of “permanent” jobs and starting the system of “hire and fire” grew louder with each year.
The Permanent Employment System and its Demolition
If workers have to fight for their rights, especially in a country with such high unemployment as India, there must be security of employment. Hire and fire cannot be allowed otherwise the fight would be terribly more difficult for workers. For this, after years of struggle, the workers had the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 – the first law for workers after the 2nd World War. This defined the modes of employment as Permanent, temporary, casual, badli and probationer. The base was permanent.
All workers whose work was of a permanent nature were permanent workers. The important issue was the nature of work. Temporary workers were those employed for work of a temporary nature or for a temporary increase in the permanent nature of work. Casual workers were for work of a casual nature (unplanned, sudden – like cleaning up after a storm). Badlis were the workers who were employed to fill in vacancies caused by sickness or leave etc. Even they were required to be given cards and allotted work as per seniority and attendance.
The idea was that all workers who did permanent nature of work in the establishment would be permanent workers. In spite of this it was found that workers were being continued as temporaries, casuals and badlis for years on end. This was remarked upon by the First Labour Commission under Justice Gajendragadkar in his report in 1969. Around the same time the Maharashtra Government had set up a committee on unfair labour practices in 1968. They had recommended that keeping workers as temporary, casual and badli for years with the object of depriving the workers of the rights of permanency was an unfair labour practice. Justice Gajendragadkar had noted these unfair labour practices with approval. His report states that keeping workers as casual for years by giving them artificial breaks is a “pernicious practice”.
In response to this, under the pressure of the unions in Maharashtra (at that time the strongest union movement was in Mumbai), the Maharashtra Government enacted two laws.
Firstly, they amended the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act to make it clear that, whatever s(he) may be called, whether temporary, casual or badli, the worker would have to be made permanent if they completed 240 days without counting artificial breaks.
Secondly, a law was passed against unfair labour practices where keeping workers as temporaries, casuals and badlis for years with the object of denying them benefits of permanency was an unfair labour practice. Other states also followed suit and similar laws were passed in several states. Ultimately the Central Government also prohibited unfair labour practices similar to the law in Maharashtra.
Of course the Supreme Court has given some confusing judgements but the law as it stands today is roughly that the worker is entitled to become permanent upon completion of 240 days of uninterrupted service.
The reversal started in 1984 itself. The definition of retrenchment was amended to say that if a worker was employed for a definite / fixed period and his employment was not renewed at the end of that period then it would not count as retrenchment. But the worker was still entitled to be made permanent after 240 days. This position remained till the report of the Second Labour Commission. The Second Labour Commission led by Mr. Verma gave its report in 2002. This report has totally capitulated in favour of the employers. Most of the changes being brought about now are suggested by the Second Labour Commission.
In this report the Second Labour Commission has accepted that there is an economic necessity for all industrial and commercial enterprises to transform the basis of tenure of all jobs (permanent and non-permanent) to contractual and for stipulated periods. It says that there is therefore such a social necessity and the proper social acceptance for such a change and the social institutions for the consequences of such change must first be created.
The Commission also records the employers’ demands that Chapter VB of the Industrial Disputes Act which requires government permission for retrenchment, lay-off or closure must be repealed or the threshold for its application must be increased only to establishments where 300 or more workers are employed. This latter demand has been broadly accepted by the Commission. The Commission also recommended that no labour laws should apply generally to all establishments with 19 or less workers. A special law should be made, instead for such small establishments. This meant that laws like the Factories Act, ESI Act, Shops & Establishments Act etc would not apply to such small establishments. Broadly we can take that the provisions being put in the current labour codes are, more or less, according to the recommendations of the Second Labour Commission.
Current Changes in the Labour Codes
In 2002, the Government was not able to immediately implement the recommendations of the Second Labour Commission. By 2004 the Government had changed and the UPA government had come in. The UPA also tried to make changes in labour laws based on the recommendations of the Second Labour Commission. However, due to opposition to this, the UPA Government sent the recommendations for changes in labour laws to a Joint Parliamentary Committee. The report of this committee on some of the proposed changes shows that 70% of the workers who presently get the protection of labour laws will be denied such protection if the changes are made.
In spite of this, within one week of assuming office in 2014, the Modi Government, in its first cabinet meeting announced its decision to go ahead with the changes in labour laws. This led to great protest. Also, the Modi Government did not have the requisite majority in the Rajya Sabha to make such changes without the consent of the Opposition. Due to this, it played a fraud on the Constitution.
Our Constitution allows both Central and State Government to make labour laws. If there is conflict between laws made by both, then the laws made by the Centre will prevail. However, in the particular situation of a state, if a state law is given the assent of the President, the state law will prevail in that state.
The NDA and allied governments started to make the changes in labour laws at the state levels. Starting with states like Rajasthan and then Haryana, MP, etc and even extending to Maharashtra, Odisha, etc the NDA and its allied governments made the changes at the state level that they could not have made at the Central level and the President of India assented to the change.
But this was also not enough, the corporates wanted that the changes must be enacted into law centrally and must be applicable all over India. Due to this, the Modi-2 Government with its huge majority bypassed all opposition and passed the first labour code i.e. Code on Wages in the Parliament on 8th August 2019. Finally, seeing its chance on 23rd September 2020, in the midst of Covid and when the whole of the opposition was not present in Parliament, the remaining three Codes were also passed and thus the four labour codes were enacted into law.
We aim not to analyse the codes in detail like lawyers. What we want to do in this leaflet is to point out the main points which will affect the workers due to the new labour codes.
Fixed Term Contracts of Service
One of the most dangerous effects of the new codes is the recognition of “fixed-term” as a tenure of service. Whereas earlier there were only 5 types of employment – permanent, temporary, casual, badli and probationer – now a sixth has been added for all workers all over India – “fixed term”. Under this, if you are employed for a fixed term (say one year or two years) then you will not become permanent. You have to be paid the same wages and benefits as permanent workers but will have no protection against retrenchment, lay-off, closure, arbitrary discharge etc. If your term is complete, there is no compulsion on the management to take you back. This is one form of “hire and fire”.
The term can be renewed for any number of times. So a worker may spend his whole working life only as a Fixed Term worker. The upshot of this will be that the united strength of the workers will be seriously eroded. Fixed Term workers will be scared to join unions. If they play leading roles, their contracts would not be renewed
New Definition of “Settlement”
Under the existing law, an industrial dispute (except for dismissal, discharge, etc) must be collective. A dispute about, say, wages, must be espoused by a Union or substantial number of workers so that unity of workers is maintained against the management. Therefore, a “settlement”, which settles a dispute, is also only collective.
In the new Codes, the definition of “settlement” has been amended. This means that even an individual worker can sign a settlement with the management about wages, or holidays, or whatever. Combined with fixed term contracts, this will be a deadly combination. An employer will be legally allowed to give fixed term contracts and fix different settlements with each fixed term worker.
This system has been tried and tested in the newspaper industry. Most journalists have today shifted to individual contracts and sign their own settlements. At first these were lucrative but now many are wanting to get back to the wage board awards. But their Unions having been decimated in the process, there is no collective voice or movement to push for this.
This new definition will also undermine the unions. Due to this, favourites of the management will get better contracts and those who fight for their rights will not only have to accept worse contracts but will not even have their contracts renewed and will have no rights to fight this.
Lay-off, Retrenchment and Closure
Since 1984 the employer cannot lay-off or retrench any worker or close the establishment, without the prior permission of the Government, where the establishment has over 100 workers. The workers also have to be given a hearing by the Government. Now the figure of 100 has been changed to 300 in the new Labour Codes. This means that around 70% of the workers who were getting the protection of this provision will no more be eligible for it. It will be easier to lay-off or retrench workers or to close an establishment.
The Second Labour Commission had recommended such measures but had also recommended that at least the compensation for lay-off, retrenchment or closure be increased. This had also been done in the earlier drafts of the Code. However, in the final draft, even this has not been done.
Over 90% of the workforce can now be laid-off or retrenched and all except a minute minority of establishments (which employ more than 300 workers) can be closed without any permission required. This is just more of “hire and fire”.
Another method of increasing “hire and fire” is to engage contract workers. This means that workers will have no rights against the real employers but only against the so-called contractors who are mostly sham and bogus. Till today we can at least go to courts and say that the contractor was sham and bogus and claim rights against the real employer if the courts can be convinced by evidence that the contractors were sham and bogus.
Now the definition of “contractor” has been changed in the Codes. Today it means any person who undertakes to provide a given result other than a mere supply of goods and services. The new Code adds that “contractor” includes even “the mere supply of human labour”. So now even a “sham contractor” is a defined contractor and workers have been made into objects of trade. One can openly trade in human labour which is just another form of slavery. “Hire and fire” taken to its ultimate objective.
Again the definition of “employer” has been changed. It now includes the contractor. So the contract worker will have two masters (employers) – the principal employer and the contractor. This will mean that the contract worker will have even more trouble to enforce his rights. For example, the responsibility for payment of PF is on the “employer”. The principal employer and the contractor may both shuttle the worker, one to the other for his legitimate dues. If he has to approach a Court, he will have to make both parties and will have to fight both together.
Lastly even such meagre protection as was granted to a contract worker under the Contract Labour Act, 1971, will be lost to the vast majority. Today this Act is applicable wherever minimum 20 contract workers are employed. Under the new Codes it will only apply where minimum 50 contract workers are employed. As it is, employers used to show less than 20 workers by using dubious means like showing only 19 workers under each contractor and evading the licensing provisions. Now it will become even easier to exploit contract workers. One more step in the journey of “hire and fire”.
Change in the Definition of “Industry”
Most Industrial laws apply to “industry”. Since the Industrial Disputes Act was enacted in 1947 the question has always crept up as to what is “industry”. From the early 1950s the first case was on Budge-Budge Municipality where the employers said a municipal corporation is not industry. Five judges of the Supreme Court rejected this argument. They held that a Municipal Corporation was an industry. Then came the case of a hospital – Safdarjung Hospital. In 1970 six judges of the Supreme Court held that Safdarjung Hospital was not an industry.
However the controversy was finally decided when a bench of 7 judges of the Supreme Court gave a comprehensive definition of industry in the Bangalore Water Works case. This definition looks at “industry” from the point of view of the worker. If the workers are working mainly for a wage and not for a cause then the undertaking has to be held to be an industry in spite of the fact that it may serve a sovereign purpose or a charitable purpose etc. On the other hand if the workers are, in the main, working for a cause, then the undertaking is not an industry even if it is a commercial venture. Again in 2005 a bench of 5 judges of the Supreme Court has said that the decision in the Bangalore Water Works needs to be revisited. However, this has never been done.
Now, in the new Codes all undertakings which have a ‘sovereign function’ or which are owned or managed by organisations which are substantially engaged in a ‘charitable’, ‘social’ or ‘philanthropic’ service are removed from the definition of “industry”. Due to this, all Government servants and many others will no more be covered by industrial laws. And ‘social’ and ‘philanthropic’ are such broad terms that can potentially cover so many things e.g., even hospitals run by Corporates like Apollo Hospital.
On Unorganised Sector Workers
In spite of the enactment of the Unorganised Sector Worker Act in 2008, there are really no rights for the unorganised sector workers. This Act only says that Boards will be formed at the Central, State and District levels which will frame some welfare schemes for the benefit of unorganised sector workers. There is no real meaning in this as there is no provision for garnering the funds for such schemes. There is no compulsion to form any scheme and to give any benefit whatsoever. If and when the government feels like it can give such benefits to such workers.
Again, Maharashtra had earlier made laws like the Mathadi Workers Act and the Security Guards Act. Under these Acts, boards were formed and the employers were made to pay the amounts required to get at least a minimum wage for the mathadi workers and the security guards. The Central Government enacted the Building and Other Construction Workers Act along similar lines in 1996. This also required every person who undertook any building activity to pay a cess for funding schemes for the workers.
However, the Unorganised Sector Workers Act makes no such provision. This was a good opportunity to provide for collection of funds for the provision of social security to the unorganised sector workers. Since the organised and unorganised sector were to be clubbed for the purposes of social security, the big employers of the organised sector could have been tapped for the necessary funds. This has sadly not been done in this Act.
There is a lot of hue and cry of how even gig workers, contract workers and even self-employed workers have been brought under the purview of the Social Security Code. This only means that the Governments income will increase as it will collect money from millions more of workers. However, there is no provision for increasing the facilities. As it is, we know what state the ESI hospitals are in. Now they will have to cater to twice the number of workers on the same funds. This is clearly a fraud on the workers of the unorganised sector.
This brings us to the provisions of social security actually provided in the Social Security Code. As it is, the rate of PF is being reduced from 12 to 10%. This is said to increase the take-home pay of the worker. In fact this means that the worker will have less in his PF. The extra amount that the worker will take home will be reduced from his PF account. The employer will also reduce a similar amount from the workers’ PF. By this method thousands of crores will be transferred from the pockets of the workers into the pockets of the big corporates.
Thus, instead of taking further money from the big corporates to provide benefit schemes for the workers, this Government has thought fit to take money from the workers for the benefit of the big corporates. This same logic will also apply to the provision for allowing the worker to reduce his contribution to PF which is now being touted in the news. All this is being done at a time when life expectancy has grown. The PF has to provide for many more years of retired life. However, the Government seeks to help corporates by reducing their corporate burden and thereby increase the burden of the elderly upon society at large.
Effects on Unions and right to strike
The obvious effect of “hire and fire” and “outsourcing” as noted above is reduction of strength of the unions. If all the workers are denied job security and are kept away from the benefits of permanency, then there will obviously be very weak unions as it will be very easy to victimise workers. They will have no legal redress and this will leave workers with no alternative but to resort to extra-legal means to secure a decent livelihood.
There are also some direct effects on unions and unionisation in the new codes. Where earlier a union’s registration could be cancelled only for violation of a provision of the Trade Unions Act, the new Codes make violation of any provision of the IR Code (which includes provisions of the ID Act, Standing Orders, etc) liable to punishment by deregistration. This will mean that a union could also be deregistered for, say, going on an illegal strike.
The new labour codes attempt to make legal organizing of strikes more difficult, and try to snatch a fundamental right of workers in the process of collective bargaining. Earlier only industries under ‘public utility services’ (the essential services like hospitals, railways etc) were to give a 14-day notice before organizing a strike. Now it has been made mandatory for all workers, with a validity of 2 months. If meetings for settlement start after the submission of strike notice, then any strike during the negotiation or settlement process will be illegal.
All in all the whole aim of the new codes is clearly to allow the employers to “hire and fire”, to allow them to “outsource” without any restrictions and to allow them to use workers as slaves. Unions will be crushed and workers will be reduced to penury.
Through the new labour codes, the ruling class has attempted to snatch away the hard-earned rights of the working class acquired through extensive struggles and push it back a hundred years. This is the most vicious planned attack on the working class in India since 1947. Over past several decades in India and the world, the class unity of workers and their struggles has diminished. Changes in the mode of production divided the working class into different categories within itself. Today the ruling class has become even more aggressive due to ‘socialist’ countries following the path of capitalism and the dominance of compromising and capitalist tendencies over revolutionary tendencies in the working class movement in the country and across the world. The effect of the deepening crisis of world-capitalism in the era of neoliberalism gets reflected in the increasing ferocity of their attacks. The working class must look at these new labour codes in this perspective and background.
The process of implementation of new labour codes in India has emerged as a part of a larger process of fascist attacks on the working class, directly backed by the big Indian and foreign capital. The established Central Trade Unions, owing to their weaknesses, compromising attitude and ritualism in the name of ‘struggle’, fail to lead a continuous, militant and decisive struggle of the working class across the country against these new codes. The country’s farmers have
shown us how a militant struggle for the past one year against the pro-corporate three Farm Laws, can force the government run by corporate-fascist forces to withdraw those laws and submit to the demands of the struggling farmers. This farmers struggle and its success against the anti-farmer reforms have inspired the toiling masses of the country that militant mass movements have the capacity to take on the ruling class and their anti-people agenda. Such a countrywide struggle by workers against the new labour codes has not yet arisen. But in the recent past, we have seen numerous militant struggles of workers across the country and that give us immense hope. The militant struggle of workers in hundreds of factories like Maruti-Honda-Pricol-Allied Nippon etc., of garment workers in Bangalore, tea garden workers in Kerala, various sector-wide struggles including ordnance-mines, the struggle of ASHA-Anganwadi workers in the unorganized sector, platform and gig workers etc. have been going on. The scope of these struggles was local or sectoral, but the content of a militant and decisive struggle against neoliberal policies is definitely visible in them.
It has become imperative today to direct the struggle against the new labour codes towards a continuous, militant and decisive struggle; a struggle which the working class must transform into the one that overthrows this oppressive system based on its exploitation.
The working class has nothing to lose but its chains. It has the whole world to win!