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Ten central trade unions on Monday said they have decided not to virtually meet Union labour ministry authorities to discuss the labour code rules being framed.

The trade unions said the tripartite (government, and employees’ and employers’ representatives) consultations must take place in a physical mode as the ministry is functioning fully. They said it showed that the government was not serious about it.

“Instead of taking our objections seriously, the government is trying to create a farce of tripartite consultations by setting up this kind of video conference when we know that physical meetings of the government are taking place at various levels, including negotiations with farmers and the election preparation rallies in various states," the 10 trade unions said in a joint statement.

“We reiterate our stand and insist on physical meetings to discuss the draft rules. Till such time, we are constrained to dissociate ourselves from this exercise, which serves no purpose other than to create a semblance of tripartism. We shall not attend the proposed video conference," they said in a separate joint letter to Union labour minister Santosh Gangwar. Mint has seen a copy of the letter.

The Union labour ministry has called a meeting via video conference with central trade unions on 12 January, after a failed attempt in December, to discuss the framing of rules on the Code on Social Security, and Code on Occupational Health and Safety and Working Conditions. The unions believe that the move is aimed at keeping them silent if they oppose any provision whenever they wish by switching them off.

“The government has failed to take cognizance of our previous letter on 22 December demanding physical meetings for discussion on such a serious matter that would have a long-lasting adverse impact on the lives of…crores workforce of our country and the negation of collective bargaining as a core fundamental right of workers," the unions said in the joint statement.

“One can understand if along with the physical meeting a few of those who find it difficult to travel because of special circumstances could be provided online facility also. But to deny holding the serious exercise through physical meetings smells of a wilful anti-labour stance on the part of the government," the Unions alleged in their statement.

The government is open to tripartite consultations and want trade unions to join via video conference, but may formally comment on the trade union issue on Tuesday, a labour ministry official said. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is likely to join the meeting, said the official on condition of anonymity. BMS is an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of ruling Bharaitya Janata Party.

The 10 unions that have rejected to meet include the All India Trade Union Congress, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, and the Indian National Trade Union Congress.

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