India: Core labour standards not implemented in ADB funded projects

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Handbook on Core Labour Standards 2005, committed to comply with the internationally recognized core labour standards (CLS) and related labour laws in the design, formulation and operation of its loans to the developing countries. However the workers in the projects have identified union busting, harassment or physical violence against unions and discrimination and dismissals and other work-related anti-union/worker actions etc. in the projects and the compliance according to the CLS handbook is not strictly observed.

The Global Unions (GUFs) have been strategically engaging with ADB since 2005 in order to implement the core labour standards issues and to provide a mechanism to voice the workers grievances. In order to technically prove the lapses in compliance and to point out to the ADB during their engagement, the Global Unions based in India, launched seven studies across multiple sectors in 2013. These studies were commissioned under the joint GUFs/FNV Project on Adherence to CLS in ADB funded projects in India. The excerpts and the major findings of the studies have been complied in a book form for the benefit of the trade union leaders and members.

India started borrowing from ADB in 1986 and is currently one of the largest borrowers. For instance, up to the end of 2012 India has received loans amounting to 29,285.67 million US dollars through 196 projects.

These ADB projects employ thousands of workers in India and have major impacts on their livelihoods. The workers, as found in the studies, are often forced to work for paltry wages and without adequate health and safety measures. To protect the interests of the workers and proceed towards a more sustainable process of development, it is imperative for the ADB and GUFs and national governments to strategically engage with each other and resolve the issues. Currently there are multiple unresolved issues but these are not being seriously considered.

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