Leftist parties gathered in New Delhi Monday to call out the right-wing BJP for not meeting workers' demands in India.
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Leaders from the Communist Party of India-Marxist, or CPI-M, urged Modi and his government to respect workers' rights and demands like the implementation of the Minimum Wages Act, social security benefits, and maternity benefits, regularization of daily wage workers, among others. They also called for the protection of trade union rights as well as measures to curb price rises and address ever-rising unemployment.
Communist Party of India, CPI, leader Atul Anjan said if the "centre-to-left" people don't unite, India will be in grave danger, the Telegraph India reported.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, AIPWA, pointed to a speech by India's PM Narendra Modi to workers on May Day, saying the ruling right-wing party's slogan of "Shrameva Jayate" is a rallying cry that glorifies capitalism and is "designed to mystify and glorify workers’ submission to capital."
"The Modi Government, likewise, invites global and Indian capitalists to ‘Make in India,’ and erodes workers’ rights and labor laws to do so," Krishnan told the National Herald, blasting India's ruling BJP's "lynch mob politics."
From the start of his term as India's prime minister, Modi's stance has been to crack down on labor laws. According to Krishnan, the Indian government is preparing to remove labor law coverage for nearly 90 percent of Indian workers.
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In addition, a finance bill passed by the Modi government in March this year allows corporations to fund political parties by way of donations with no cap as long as they keep the donations confidential.
The safety of workers in India is not well accounted for, often resulting in deaths and injuries. Minimum wage violations are widespread as contract workers are paid far less than permanent workers with fewer or no benefits. A meager 8 percent of manufacturing workers in India are in formal employment, the rest are short-term contractors who enjoy minimal social security benefits, according to Reuters.
The Labor Ministry of India had also proposed a bill to make it harder for workers to form unions, and those who do form unions are often targeted.
Modi is pushing for one of the biggest overhauls to the labor reform in India in decades. In September of last year, India saw one of its biggest workers' strikes in decades opposing Modi's proposal of labor reform which among other regressive measures, would allow a factory having less than 300 employees to be able to fire its workers without government approval.