10 Central Trade Unions Boycott L20 Meetings After Centre Insists RSS-Backed Union Will Chair

The L20 meetings include trade unions from all G20 countries. The International Trade Unions Confederation has called the L20 meetings hosted by India a "sham".

New Delhi: Around 10 central trade unions have boycotted the L20 meetings – of trade unions from G20 countries – being held in Patna, Bihar from Thursday (June 22). According to The Hindu, this is because they’re unhappy with the Union government’s decision to appoint RSS-supported trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) as the chair of the L20.

According to the protesting unions, the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) used to chair the L20 meetings – and the BMS is not a member of this confederation. However, the Union government had reportedly rejected the ITUC’s suggestion that the Indian National Trade Union Congress also be made a chair of the meeting.

Last month, the ITUC had released a statement criticising the Narendra Modi government for insisting that the BMS will chair the L20 meeting. “This year, despite months of negotiations and offers to compromise on certain issues by the ITUC and independent Indian unions, the government of India has insisted that the L20 will be chaired by the Indian Workers’ Union, known as the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). This Hindu nationalist trade union confederation is close to Prime Minister Modi’s ruling party, which will be contesting elections next year,” the statement said.

“For years, governments hosting the G20 have accepted the role of the world’s leading independent trade union confederation in representing working people to the G20. This was respected by China and Saudi Arabia, countries without independent unions. Yet the government of India, the world’s largest democracy, and one with a vibrant independent trade union movement, will host the worst G20 we have ever seen in terms of its representation of working people,” ITUC acting general secretary Luc Triangle had said.

“While the government backed BMS will hold sham L20 events in India, the ITUC and TUAC [Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD] will convene virtual L20 events involving the independent trade unions representing the majority of trade union members in India, as well as unions from the rest of the G20 countries,” the ITUC statement said.

Bihar Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar inaugurated the L20 meeting on Thursday, The Hindu reported. BMS president Hiranmaye Pandaya is chairing the meet.

When asked about the unions boycotting the event and their reasons, Union labour minister Bhupendra Yadav said his ministry had always been encouraging tripartite consultations and several trade unions from India were attending the conference.