The labour movement in the South Asia subregion is very divergent although there is near convergence in the challenges being faced by them. Most of the countries have free and democratic trade unions although some of these unions have strong affiliations to one or the other political parties. The effects of globalization and economic liberalization in the form of increasing informalization and atypical forms of employment are the common challenges being faced by them. There is variation in the forms of employers’ organizations also in the subregion. They have to face stiff international competition while trying to maintain productivity and quality.
As for India, it has a tradition of following tripartism in its labour and industrial sphere and this provides workers’ and employers’ representatives voice in working with government in shaping nationaI policies and programmes. Social dialogue between these three parties routinely takes place.
There are a number of independent and democratic trade unions in India that protect and support workers’ rights and interests at the national and State levels. The trade unions in India face some major challenges in the face of globalization and economic liberalization, which has brought about large scale informalization of work and increased labour flexibility. These include the right to organize and bargain collectively, erosion of social security, issues related to protection of internal and outgoing migrant workers’ rights, forced labour and child labour and gender inequality. There is multiplicity of trade unions across economic and industrial sectors. 12 trade union federations are recognized by the Government of India as central trade unions on the basis of their strength and spread for purposes of regular consultations.
Similarly, there are a number of well established employers’ organizations to represent the collective voices of private and government-owned enterprises, including small, medium and large businesses. They interact with the central and State governments and workers’ organizations to protect and promote the interests of employers. The Council of Indian Employers is the umbrella organization of three employers’ bodies, the AIOE, EFI and SCOPE, which takes part in the ILO activities.