Indian trade union bodies and leaders have once again called on the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to pay more attention to improving the conditions of workers and unskilled labourers.
Highlighting this need, the vice president of the Asia-Pacific unit of ITUC, G. Sanjeeva Reddy, recently maintained that ITUC could certainly take more initiatives to ensure better working conditions for crores of unskilled workers in India. Speaking in the wake of the recent demise of veteran trade unionist P.T. Rajan in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Reddy said that “the 70-year-old trade union leader was a good man and his passing away is sad. We were part of various organisational mechanics and were involved in many discussions on the welfare of workers.”
Rajan, who was the district secretary of the Kozhikode unit of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), leaves a huge dent in the spirit of righteous unionism. A vocal leader for the rights of workers, Reddy had earlier maintained that global union leaders lacked the requisite ambition to elevate workers’ rights. He said, “I have spoken with ITUC general secretary, Sharan Burrow, on multiple occasions and requested her to intervene and work pro-actively for Indian workers. but we don’t know what’s happening. “What can I say about their lifestyle? As affiliates, I have personally paid 18 lakhs annually as fees, but we don’t know where most of it goes”.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh general secretary, Virjesh Upadhyay, the largest trade union body in India, has little faith in global bodies like the ITUC. He pointed out: “They may have hidden interests. They are disconnected with workers on the ground, and live lavish lives.” According to evidences provided by reliable sources, ITUC general secretary, Sharan Burrow, leads quite a fanciful life and is known to indulge in rich practices. She leads an expensive and globe trotting lifestyle.
The International Labour Organisation, based in Geneva, is the UN specialised agency for the workplace, which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights, but the ILO appears to be lacking in its moral duty to ensure that the representatives of trade union bodies across the world align with even the lowest-paid worker. There is a need for ITUC to show measurable solidarity with underprivileged workers in nations like India, Nepal and Bangladesh etc.The Indian Government is already investigating the role of ITUC in leading labour strikes against the establishment.
“ITUC and its affiliates are accusing India and its government of poor compliance with international labour standards, especially with regard to child labour. Most such strikes are a politically-motivated agenda against the ruling government,” a dossier prepared by the government has said.
INDECONT, a Kathmandu-based trade union body in Nepal, recently filed an official complaint with ILO office in Kathmandu, highlighting the ITUC’s inability to do anything concrete for its workers, who are still recovering from the trauma of the April earthquake. Sri Lankan minister Seneviratne and International corporate attorney Das Gupta, a specialist operating in the Middle East, have also been critical of ITUC’s operating procedures, and called for it to act responsibly.