- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

Indian States Violating Rights By Changing Labour Laws to Rescue Covid-19 Hit Economy - Rahul Gandhi

© REUTERS / AMIT DAVEA health worker uses an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of a motorcyclist on a road in India
A health worker uses an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of a motorcyclist on a road in India - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian government has spent $22.36 billion in cash and food grain relief for the poor since the lockdown was announced on 26 March. The current restrictions are set to remain in force until 17 May.

Rahul Gandhi, a key politician of India's main opposition party Congress, has taken a swipe at state governments that have changed labour laws in order to incentivise industry to resume industrial and construction work to boost the Covid-19 hit economy.

The former Congress party chief and a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter on Monday to say that states government opting for changes in the labour laws are violating human rights and that the “fight against Covid-19 cannot be an excuse to exploit the daily wage earners”.

“A number of states are amending the Labour laws. We are struggling with the Coronavirus, but this cannot be an excuse to violate the human rights of labourers, muzzle their voices, exploit and make them work in unsafe environments. There cannot be any compromise on these basic principles,” his tweet stated.   

Last week, a number of Indian states made amendments to their laws suspending a slew of labour norms to reinvigorate investment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

States ruled by both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gandhi's own party Congress have both made changes to labour laws. 

The amendments made by the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, ruled by BJP’s ascetic chief Yogi Adityanath, have been far-reaching and have seen standards and norms suspended for three years in areas including occupational safety, industrial disputes, working conditions, and trade union legislation.

Indian money - Sputnik International
Huge Job Loss About to Hit: Indian Opposition Leader Backs Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme for Poor

The Uttar Pradesh government said in a statement last week: “The industrial and economical activities in Uttar Pradesh have been severely affected and slowed down due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Businesses and economic activities came to a halt more or less due to the national lockdown. To bring economic activity back on track, new investment opportunities would need to be created along with fastening the businesses processes and productivity.”

Other BJP-ruled states that have suspended labour laws include Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat – the home state of Prime Minister Modi.

Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have increased working hours from 8 hours and 48 hours a week to 12 hours a day and 72 hours a week.

A homeless person sleeps on the pavement outside a railway station during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, March 26, 2020.  - Sputnik International
COVID-19: India Announces $22.36 Billion Financial Package for the Poor Amid Nationwide Lockdown

Congress-led states, including Rajasthan, have also made changes to their labour laws increasing working hours.

In India, both states and the central government can legislate on working hours.

The Congress party has strongly attacked the Modi government, as a majority of daily wage earners have been marooned amid the national lockdown. Losing their livelihood and shelter in industrial cities, labourers have often been forced to walk miles to return to their homes. 

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала