As expected, the government has gone about changing labour laws. While the UPA backed off in the face of resistance by trade unions, NDA-II, with an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, appears to have turned deaf ears to consultations, prompting a helpless trade union leader to confess, “They meet, listen, seem to agree with our views, give assurances and then go and do exactly what they had initially proposed.” The ruling BJP’s very own trade union wing, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), along with the AITUC, CITU and several others across the country have been yelling themselves hoarse over the labour reforms proposed by the Centre.
“If we thought UPA-II was influenced by the industry, the current government is being driven by a corporate agenda,” says Amarjeet Kaur, CPI national secretary. While similar amendments were proposed by the UPA in 2008, officials in the ministry say it was stalled at the last minute due to strict opposition. However, in the new government, there has been no more discussions. Even as the proposed reforms were opposed in a consultation with unions and other bodies in June, notifications for reforms were put on the ministry’s website in July.