02 March, 2021

COVIDED! Trade Unions Smell A Fish As Centre On Verge Of Tweaking Labour Laws

By increasing working hours from eight to 12, states are violating international norms and the Centre may have other plans that may affect the labour class

Informal sector workers, who don’t have trade union strength, won’t be able to oppose the change in labour laws
Photograph by PTI
COVIDED! Trade Unions Smell A Fish As Centre On Verge Of Tweaking Labour Laws

Abandonment, hunger, loss of employment…if there is a single class of people worst hit by the pandemic it is India’s working class, migrant or otherwise. On this Labour Day, there was little for them to be optimistic­—unemployment loomed, as did dilution of hard-won rights.The Centre’s decision to ease industrial activities in the third phase of lockdown has seen at least five state governments increasing the working hours of factory hands from the existing eight hours to 12 hours a day—a major departure from the International Labour Organisation  (ILO) norms, ratified by India in 1921. The state governments say the step was taken to reduce footfalls and to enforce social distancing.

Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have amended the Factories Act (FA), invoking special powers—permitted during a public emergency. The extension of working hours will be applied to establishments across the states.  However, trade unions and experts claim that the government is just fast tracking—using the...

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