With the 2014 general elections around the corner, all the major political parties have released their manifestos already. This note looks through the election manifestos of the Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and the newly emerged Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and highlights the promises that are given by each of these parties with regard to labour issues.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
The BJP mentions that the party recognizes labour as the key of the revival of the economy. It believes in promoting a harmonious relationship between labour and the industry, with both playing an important contributory role in economic growth and development. The party further mentions that it seeks to propose and encourage the concept of ‘Industry Family’ for the organized labour, in which the industry owners and laborers bond as a family, is guided by the principles of efficiency, skill development and upgradation, productivity, appropriate wages and perquisites, and security towards this end.
- Unorganized Labor: The BJP mentions that it will seek to ensure that the interests of the unorganized laborers are protected. Towards achieving that goal, it promises to issue identity cards to the unorganized sector laborers, and make arrangements to provide them good quality health and education services. Also, their skills will be upgraded through appropriate training programs.
- Social security: BJP promises to extend access to modern financial services to labour. Moreover, the party mentions that it will also explore the option of setting up a dedicated Workers Bank. It will further strengthen the Pension and Health Insurance safety nets for all kinds of laborers.
- Review of Labour laws: The party also mentions that it will bring together all stakeholders to review India’s Labour laws which according to them ‘are outdated, complicated and even contradictory’
- Jobs Creation: The BJP aims towards making India a manufacturing hub and promises to create millions of jobs in small enterprises, manufacturing and tourism sectors etc.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
The Aam Aadmi Party takes focuses strongly on labour and seeks to bring forth the following changes:-
- Creating Decent jobs and Gainful employment for the Youth: In point 10, AAP mentions that it would focus on “Creating Decent Jobs and Gainful Employment for our Youth. It recognizes that over 12 million youth enter the job market in India every year and AAP is committed on creating decent jobs across sectors like Agriculture, manufacturing and Services. It also focuses on opportunities for lifelong learning and skills development The job creation according to AAP would happen in honest enterprises, which would be done by reducing corruption and streamlining the system of excessive regulations and licenses
- No contractualisation of Jobs: The point 17 of the manifesto makes an important point that there won’t be any contractualisation of Jobs. The party takes a strong position against exploitation at work place and mentions that it will not allow contractual employment for posts that require work to be done throughout the year. However, it candidly confesses that it will not be possible to eliminate contract labour in temporary engagement of workers for a few days or months. (However the final limit on month is not being given by the party, which means that contract labour in industries like construction could still continue unabated.) The party however mentions that it would take necessary steps to ensure better working conditions.
- Wages: Minimum wages would be strictly implemented. And there wont be any discrimination of contract workers in terms of access to canteens, uniforms and company transport.
- Social Security: When it comes to Social security the AAP promises that it will ensure the creation of guidelines regarding their wages, working hours, or required facilities in place of work for unorganized workers. Moreover, it will also regularize their working conditions and spaces to prevent ongoing harassment by the police and ensure minimum social security benefits such as access to health care, old-age pensions, accident cover and would also explore possibilities for evolving contributory schemes.
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress in its manifesto outlines a detailed action plan 2014-19 and mentions that it would adopt the following measures to protect the rights of the workers:-
- Social Security: It promises to extend social security cover to both organized and unorganized labour.
- Improvement in Working Conditions: The Congress mentions that it will ensure strict implementation of Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970, to end exploitation of workers and to improve their welfare and working conditions. Special emphasis would be given to laborers working in hazardous industries.
- Aadhar Coverage: All the working class, especially migrant laborers to be covered under Aadhar by next year through a special campaign (Please note that the supreme court of India has ruled that Aadhar card is not necessary for availing any benefit as of now, so there is a question whether or not this exercise is needed at all.)
- Unorganized labour: The congress promises to implement the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 to be implemented in letter and spirit. Moreover, the special needs of laborers in plantations, particularly those relating to housing will be addressed through ongoing programmes, mentions the manifesto.
- Review of Labour laws: The congress mentions that it would set up a commission to explore the possibility of bringing all Labour laws under one comprehensive law.
- Jobs creation: The congress promises that it would create 10 crore jobs in the manufacturing sector alone in a period of 10 years.