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NEW DELHI : Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), a leading national trade union affiliated to the RSS, has reminded the government that the Indian Labour Conference (ILC), the highest tripartite discussion forum, has not happened for past five years although millions have been rendered jobless in the recent past, and many more have faced reduction of income both in formal and informal sectors.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BMS said ILC was held last in 2015, which was attended by the PM himself. It said the country is facing “several burning issues" related to labour welfare. This is highly required to uphold the noble tradition of tripartism in the country, the trade union underlined in its letter.

“Today several burning issues such as that of migrant workers, labour law reforms, informal sector workers, contract workers in the formal sector, loss of jobs and wage reduction during the pandemic, social security, increasing marginalization of women workers, etc. are all matters of high concern for the workers in India," BMS said it its letter.

BMS further said in the letter that ILC was the appropriate forum for assessing the popularity of the government’s initiatives for workers and to get feedback on ground realities. "We would like to request you (the PM) to take steps to convene the Indian Labour Conference at the earliest, honouring it with your presence," the trade union said.

India is set to implement four labour codes over the next three to four months but the trade unions across party affiliations, have been arguing that most of them are industry friendly and promotes contractualization of permanent formal works.

The demand from BMS assumes significance as India’s unemployment scenario has worsened further after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Urban joblessness had reached 20.8% in April-June 2020 when India had witnessed a nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic, the Union labour ministry informed the Parliament on Monday.

The quarterly unemployment rates in percentage in urban areas for persons of age 15 years and above in the country for the quarters of “July-September 2019, October-December 2019, January-March 2020, and April-June 2020 were 8.3%, 7.8%, 9.1%, and 20.8% respectively", according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) quarterly bulletin April-June 2020, the ministry Informed the Lok Sabha.

The first wave of the pandemic in 2020 pushed about 230 million Indians into poverty, according to a survey by the Azim Premji University. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy showed that the second wave led to almost 23 million job losses in April and May alone. Other data show that women labour force participation has dropped year on year.

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