“National Conference on the Role of Trade Union Youth in the

Ratification of Core Labour Standards (CLS) in India”

A three days National Conference on the Role of Trade Union Youth, in the Ratification of Core Labour Standards in India was held at New Delhi on 18-20 September, 2012. The Conference was participated by 70 young leaders including 18 women representing BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU BWI and PSI. In addition the senior leaders of all these organisations and ILO also participated in the conference.  It was coordinated by Mr. R.A. Mittal, National Secretary, HMS and Mr. P. J. Raju, Secretary, INTUC.

The Central Trade Unions in India through the support of ILO – ACTRAV are implementing a National Campaign on promotion of ratification of core labour standards.  The campaign is presently ongoing with massive signature campaign and other awareness raising activities implemented by the Central Trade Unions in India. The Central Trade Unions have collected lakhs of signature appeal letters from various parts of the country impressing upon the GOI to ratify the ILO Core Conventions C. 87, C. 98, and C. 138 & C. 182.  

The main objectives of this conference were:-

  1. To strengthen the ongoing national campaign on promotion of ratification of CLS by renewing the capacities of the  potential youth leaders, men and women  from the Central Trade unions to be able to take up and actively participate in the CLS campaign through various activities like using advanced media and communication skills and other successful campaign approaches;
  2. To strengthen the campaign with active involvement of the youth already employed in various sectors and industries;
  3. To strengthen the youth committees of the various Central Trade Unions in order to be able to further strengthen the campaign activities in various sectors and work places, seeking support on ratification of CLS;
  4. To prepare a specific time bound action plan for the youth committees of the respective Central Trade unions to extend the campaign activities to many more Sectors and States;
  5. To hand over the signature campaign letters to GOI.

Mr. Mital welcomed all the leaders and youth from different trade unions to carry forward the campaign for ratification of CLS. He said that about a year back, convention 87 and 98 had been included in the 10 point demand charter prepared by all central trade unions, who are agitating together on common issues. The aim of the trade unions behind this conference was to make the campaign a rand success channelize and bring together the energy of the youth and the direction of the senior leaders. A lot of industrial unrest in the country can be controlled by the ratification of these core conventions, he added.  The question of registration and recognition of trade unions and negotiations between workers and employers are the main reasons for the unrest.

The conference was inaugurated by Mr. Ravi Mathur, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India. In his inaugural address Mr. Mathur while accepting India’s commitment to ILO conventions said that for ratification of the conventions country’s laws have to be brought in conformity with the conventions. However the Government was serious about it he said.

Opening remarks: Ms Tine Staermose, Director ILO-Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country office for India, New Delhi in her opening remarks stressed the immense importance of the campaign as Freedom of negotiation and collective bargaining were the core of ILO’s 1998 Declaration it was re affirmed by the member states in 2008.

Key note address: In his key note address Mr. Raghwan, ACTRAV, Asia Pacific Desk In-charge, ILO-Geneva. He further said that the neoliberal policies have affected jobs and wages all over the globe and worse hit is the youth . He advised youth to keep in mind the slogan “be the change you want to see” and go forth and ask for their rights.

While presenting the Background paper Dr.Pravin Sinha, ILO Consultant emphasized that the youth are not only at the focus of Trade Union activities but are also a source of strength. He provided the details of ILO Convention 87 and 98 India’s reasons for non ratification and possible roles of Trade Unions and its youth in securing ratification by India. He referring National Conference of trade unions as reference it where in it was resolved to ensure the ratification of the two ILO Conventions by India by June 2012, but the same has not been achieved so far. He also referred ILO Declaration on Principles and right at work 1998 which says that all ILO member countries shall respect CLC whether they have ratified them or not. He emphasized frequent interaction with youth groups among central trade unions as also of employer’s bodies.

Panel discussion session on “unions in the lead, Making progress in the National CLC Ratification campaign in India was chaired by Mr.Kannan of PSI, New Delhi. While summering the arguments and suggestions of the discussants he said that present day scenario is worsening the condition of workers, unity of central trade union is a positive development this unity should reach grass root level he said.

The session on salient features of ILO core conventions was conducted by Mr.Coen Kompier, Senior Specialist on ILS, ILO DWT who gave an elaboration of the two conventions and the obstacles in their ratification. He referred Maruti Suzuki Manesar (Haryana) and Yenem Andhra Pradesh where the social dialogue dead lock was the main reason of labour unrest.

Mr. Raghwan, ACTRAV, Asia Pacific Desk In-charge, ILO-Geneva discussed “Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: The Need to Reinforce the Collective Commitment for Ratification”,  

Session on “Securing workers rights and CLC to Achieve Decent Work and life for young people. Role of trade union youth” was chaired by Ms.Christine Nathan, ILO ROAP Workers Education Specialist. She gave a background of the campaign among trade union youth. She said the issues and problems the young workers face and have to deal should be today’s focal point.

The conference concluded with recommendations and conclusions: mentioned with Annexure A

On concluding the conference the Central Trade union representatives along with the youth leaders met Mr. M. Sarangi IAS Secretary MOLE GOI to apprise him of the national campaign on  ratification of core conventions and also to hand over the signature appeal letters as well as a copy of the conference conclusions and recommendation. The representatives requested the secretary labour to forward the Trade unions appeal to the GOI to ensure early ratification of core labour conventions. 

The Labour Secretary in his response apprised the delegation about the efforts being made by his ministry in this regard but ratification of these 2 conventions involves concurrence not only of the state governments but also involves the Ministry of Law and Dept. of Personnel etc. for which efforts are being made.

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