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Brussels, 22 February 2019 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has delivered a letter of protest to India’s Brussels Embassy over plans by the Modi government to eviscerate the country’s labour legislation, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and depriving them of rights. Some 200 million workers took part in a nationwide protest strike on 8 and 9 January against the government’s plans, which would remove labour-law protections from tens of millions of workers, impose heavy restrictions on workers’ organising and collective bargaining rights, expose workers to excessive working hours and to dismissal without proper recourse, and weaken laws aimed at stopping child labour.

“Prime Minister Modi is turning India’s labour laws into a blank cheque for multinationals and India’s super-rich. No self-respecting government should allow the American Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobby groups to write the laws that should protect workers. If Mr Modi won’t govern in the interests of the Indian people, then he should go. With 1% of the population controlling nearly 60% of the wealth, India is already one of the most unequal countries in the world, and these laws would make the gap even wider,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Following the January strike, India’s ten major trade union centres, including the ITUC-affiliated INTUC, HMS and SEWA, have pledged to work to defeat the Modi government in forthcoming national elections unless the government abandons its plans and enters constructive talks about reforms that would actually improve the situation of Indian workers and genuinely tackle unemployment and guarantee a national minimum wage of US$250 per month.