The BJP government in Karnataka has taken back two decision a day after they were announced following widespread criticism against them. The B. S. Yediyurappa govt has decided to restart special train services for migrant labours after they were cancelled yesterday. The Labour ministry of Karnataka has also decided to withhold controversial notices to those employers who have not paid salaries to their employees amid the Coronavirus Lockdown.
Shramik Special Train service restarts from Karnataka
Yesterday, the Karnataka government had announced that it had withdrawn its request for Shramik Special trains, which are being run by the Railway Ministry on the request of state government to transport migrant workers and others who are stuck in various places due to the lockdown to their native places. The state government cancelled the trains saying that as economic activities have resumed following relaxations given in the third phase of the lockdown, the migrants need not return now.
This move was hailed by many BJP leaders as a bold move which will restart the economic activities in the state and will also help the labours as they will resume their jobs. But the migrants, opposition, and even many BJP supporters on social media, has criticised this move. CPI(MK) General secretary Sitaram Yechury had accused the govt of considering the migrants as bonded labours. It was alleged that the government had taken the decision due to the pressure of builder lobby, who had told the state govt that they will face shortage of labour if the labours were allowed to go back to their home states.
The Youth Congress national president also filed a petition at the Karnataka High Court requesting for directing the state govt to recall its order and also to facilitate movement of people who want to return to their native places.
Listening to growing demand for migrants willing to reach home, the state government reverted its position within a day, and wrote letters to several states seeking their consent for running the special Shramik train services to those states. The govt wrote to Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, UP, Manipur, Tripura, West Bengal and Rajasthan governments to run trains between 8 and 15 May for transportation of labourers, tourists, students, pilgrims and others stranded in Karnataka.
Labour ministry notice over salaries
In another contentious move, the Karnataka govt’s labour ministry had yesterday informed that notices will be issued to all those employers who have not paid the salaries to their workers, or had paid reduced salaries. Although actually the union home ministry and labour ministry had already directed that salaries should not be withheld or cut due to the lockdown, Karnataka became the first state to actually take action on the matter.
The issue got amplified after Karnataka Labour secretary Captain Manivannan was seen jealously defending the decision on Twitter, replying to those who had questioned the decision. When well-known right-wing voice Vijay asked how the companies are going to pay salaries with zero revenue due to the lockdown, Manivannan said replied, “Business is your domain, sir. Implementing law is my domain. Let’s each of us do our work. That is Dharma.” This didn’t go well with social media users, as it was seen as a smugness of the government.
Industry was obviously upset with the decision, as they were being asked to pay full salaries even though most of them have not earned any revenue is last almost two months.
Due to the growing feedback against the move, the Karnataka government decided to put the notices on hold. Captain Manivannan informed that a joint meeting of Labour and Industries department will be held to sort out the issue of non-payment of wages to workers. He also clarified that only notices asking reasons for non-payment of salaries were going to be issued, and it is not a punitive action. He said that it was an opportunity for the employers to say their side of the story. He had also asserted that the state govt had taken then step in line with an order issued by the Union Home Ministry, and even the Supreme Court had refused to stay the order, hence the order had legal backing.