Employers and employees don’t have equal power. Exemptions given to employers should be given to employees as well.
If the Central or State Governments think employers have no responsibility to pay their employees during this crisis because they are not generating revenues, we employees have the right to ask the government to pay our bills as we are not also getting paid any salaries. The government should take the responsibility of all employees who are unemployed, on unpaid leave or facing wage cuts.
The law is supposed to protect everybody equally. But when the law considers an employer and an employee as equals irrespective of their capital owned, then the law is actually protecting the wealth of an employer from affected workers. So, if the Government can exempt employers from not paying the salary, then workers also have the right not to pay bank EMIs, electricity bills, medical bills and school fees of children, till they don’t get salary.
OUR DEMANDS TO THE CENTRAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS
The government must pay house rent / interests on pending bank EMIs, till we get our next salary.
The government must pay all medical expenses of our families and parents till we get our next salary.
The government must pay all educational fees of our children till we get our next salary.
The government must provide grocery consumables till we get our next salary.
The government must pay our electricity bills and water bills till we get our next salary.
THE GOVERNMENT GOES BACK ON ITS OWN ORDERS
On 20th March 2020, the Ministry of Labour & Employment, GoI had clearly advised all employers not to terminate any employee from a job or not to reduce their wages. Again on 29th March, vide order No 40 -3/2020-DM-I(A) of Home Secretary, GoI issued additional directions under Section 10(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act 2005 which clearly directs that all the employers shall make payment of wages of their workers at their workplace on the due date, without any deduction for the period their establishments are under closure during the lock down.
Unfortunately hundreds of companies from different sectors including the IT/ITeS Sector, have issued unlawful retrenchment/wage cut notices to their employees at different levels. Like all other unions, All India IT and ITeS Employees’ Union has also sent several complaints to the Principal Secretaries and Labour Commissioners of the concerned states and to The Secretary to GOI, Ministry of Labour & Employment. CITU has forwarded 22 letters to The Secretary to GOI, Ministry of Labour & Employment regarding wage cuts and termination by different employers. Most of the cases are not resolved and affected workers are not getting any salary.
On 15th May The Supreme Court asked the government not to take any coercive action till the following week against the companies and employers who were unable to pay full wages to their employees during the nationwide lock down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The top court issued a notice on a plea of Hand Tools Manufacturers Association. The bench said there may be small industries, which are affected due to the lock down as they can sustain for say 15 odd days but not more and if they cannot earn, how are they going to pay their workers. It added that if the government does not help these small companies, then they will not be able to pay their workers. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that he had a conference on the issue and needed to file a detailed response on the pleas.
Unfortunately On 17th May, through an order, the MHA ceased all its previous orders, including the March 29 order that mandated payment of wages to employees during the lock down period. So, from 18th May, any action against an employer by the labour department would need be in accordance with applicable labour laws.
So the government response to the petition is actually cancellation of its own order, in favour of employers. The GoI has denied extension of its support to workers. As labour is a subject in the Concurrent List under the Constitution of India, State Governments have the authority to compel employers to pay employees during this crisis. Till date, AIITEU has sent many letters to different state labour commissioners asking immediate interventions but most of the issues are not even addressed properly. Still we hope that at least State Governments will extend their support in favour of the working class.
LAYOFFS CONTINUE UNABATED
After the latest MHA order dated May 17, we are observing a huge number of layoffs in different industries. We fear that most terminated employees will not find a job in next 8 to 10 months. So, what will be the future of these employees? How will their families survive? According to these companies, they have no money to pay their employees as they are not generating any revenue today for their company. But what about the revenue accumulated over the past days from huge extra work hours donated by all these employees? Most of the employees in the IT/ITeS sector or graphic sector work more than 12 hours a day.
Today, companies want to implement ‘no work no pay’ or ‘less work less pay’. But did they implement ‘More Work More Pay’ in the past days? Did they pay for extra hours to the employees? No, they didn’t. So now, they have to take the responsibility of their employees in this crisis. The GoI must order the employers to share 50% out of their profit in the last 5 years to support employees instead of forcing them to resign. But if the government can’t compel the employers to pay its employees, then they should provide funds as we see in every budget provision for business houses.
Again, under Article 21 of Indian Constitution, we, the common people have the ‘Right to livelihood’, and the ‘Right to Live with Human Dignity’ which must be ensured by the Government. The right to live guaranteed in any civilised society implies the right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter.
Our demand is simple. If the government can’t compel employers to pay their employees, then they have to take care of the responsibilities of an unpaid employee also. We have started the petition to raise our issues to the government. Please sign this petition if you support these demands.
“Under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, we, the common people have the ‘Right to livelihood’, and the ‘Right to Live with Human Dignity’ which must be ensured by the Government.
Our demand is simple. If the government can’t compel employers to pay their employees, then they have to take care of the responsibilities of an unpaid employee also. We have started a petition to raise our issues to the government. Please sign this petition if you support these demands.