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INTUC plenary session: Govt weakening labour laws, a few becoming billionaires, says Rahul

Alleging that Modi has launched a "big assault" on the workers, a combative Gandhi vowed to fight their battle like the Congress did for the farmers on the land acquisition bill.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of having launched a “big assault” on workers by trying to weaken labour laws and attempting to “tear into pieces” their safety net.
He said the Prime Minister is coming with new buzzwords like ‘Smart Cities’, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ and is talking about growth and progress, but “only a handful” are benefiting and becoming billionaires.
“Prime Minister thinks that the workers of India are dishonest, work shirkers and could be made to work only by wielding a lathi. He feels labour laws have to be weakened and workers disciplined so that they are forced to work. He wants to bring them on their knees. If you look at the new laws being made in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, it will become clear that Modi has started a big assault on workers,” he said, addressing the 31st plenary session of INTUC, the trade union arm of the Congress.
“He (Modi) feels workers will work by implementing hire and fire policy and by weakening unions. The government should be impartial. But the government has left the workers to fend for themselves… It is not the government’s job to forcefully make workers work. Partnership between workers and industry is only possible when the government plays the role of a judge and doesn’t act as an advocate of capitalists,” he said.
Rahul also said the PM was merely creating buzzwords. “It started with ‘achche din’, then came ‘Swachch Bharat’, ‘Smart Cities’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’ and now ‘Accessible India’. God knows which jumla will come out next.”
“The phrases are interesting, but they hide as much as they talk. Words like growth, development and progress are tossed around. But growth, development and progress for whom? Who is benefiting from growth? Only 20-25 people are becoming billionaires,” he said.
He said the Prime Minister’s vision was to make India a global manufacturing centre. “He thinks India can compete with China and I agree with him. Unfortunately, there ends our unanimity because our view on what is ‘Make in India’ is totally different… India is lagging in manufacturing because our workers are scared as they are uncertain about their future. You talk about productivity but workers will not be able to work properly if they fear about their future… The worker is scared whether the job he has today will be there tomorrow. Will the factory gate open for him tomorrow… you remove that fear from their minds and see where they will take India….we will surpass China,” the Congress leader said.
“Modiji, you cannot make workers work better by reducing their job security. Their problems cannot be solved by making setting up of unions difficult. ‘Make in India’ will not be successful by ending their basic necessities. Productivity will not increase and they cannot be made to work more by introducing contractual system…I don’t know who is giving you advice on these issues… you should spend some time with those who understand the issues of workers,” Rahul added.
Referring to the Congress’s opposition to changes in the Land Bill, he said the party will fight for the cause of workers. “We will not retreat an inch. We will fight BJP, Modi and the RSS,” he said.