The Indian National Building Construction Forest and Wood Workers Federation (INBCWF), convened its Silver Jubilee Convention on 20 January 2020 in Bangalore, Karnataka State, celebrating twenty-five years of advocating for the rights of Indian building, construction and wood workers. The INBCWF is a sectoral federation of India’s largest national centre, the India National Trade Union Congress, and an important affiliate of BWI in India.
“The INBCWF has successfully completed 25 years of functioning and the reach and coverage of federation has significantly expanded, becoming a key industrial voice for workers across the country,” said R.C. Khuntia, President of the INBCWF, Chair of the BWI Indian Affiliates Council and Vice-Chair of the BWI Asia-Pacific region in his address.
“At the same time, there are numerous concerns and issues with the current Government unilaterally pushing for anti-labour reforms and weakening the trade union movement. The decisions and resolutions at this Convention will address important issues confronted by workers and trade unions in the country and will provide crucial contributions to the national debate.”
The Convention, which was attended by 250 participants representing the Federation’s affiliates across India, passed seven resolutions on important labour issues and called for the withdrawal of controversial anti-worker legislation that includes changes to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, which has been seen to promote discord amongst communities.
Other resolutions expressed commitment to the action program of Central Trade Unions, pushed for measures promoting job creation and job security in different States, advocated for the creation of welfare boards to implement social security, supported the realisation of voting rights for migrant workers and called for amending the policy framework governing international migration.
The BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino addressed the Convention, recognising the INBCWF’s leading role amongst the BWI Indiana Affiliates Council (IAC) in exposing Modi’s conservative government’s attacks on Indian trade union movement and undermining workers’ rights. He also highlighted R.C. Khuntia’s role in the BWI fights for protecting migrant workers’ rights in the Gulf countries, particularly in Qatar. The INBCWF played an important role in BWI establishing the BWI IAC branch and forming the BWI South Asian Leaders’ Forum in Qatar.
In his delivery of the BWI Solidarity Message to the Convention delegates, Tolentino stressed on INBCWF to work with INTUC to lobby the government to ratify ILO Convention 190 Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work; intensify its organising of FSC-certified companies; and increase to tree-fold the IAC financial membership to BWI.