The quashed notification of the Gujarat government allowing factories to extend shifts up to 12 hours from eight hours could have paved way for large scale unemployment in the state, claims Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha (GMS), one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court against the notification intended to bring foreign investments in the state.
The apex court on Thursday quashed the notification which also had provision of exempting factories from paying overtime wages to workers. Welcoming the court’s decision, Amarish Patel, secretary, GMS, said that allowing factories to extend shifts for 12 hours means there could be two shifts instead of three in most of the industrial units and hence the owners would retrench workers of additional shifts.
In current Covid-19 pandemic period, already many workers have lost their jobs, the provision of extending shifts for longer hours could only aggravate the unemployment scenario in Gujarat, said Patel, adding that even guidelines of International Labour Organization (ILO) say that productivity of workers decreases if they work beyond eight hours.
Terming the notification as unconstitutional, he said that longer working hours have a negative impact on social and family life of workers.
Valajibhai Chavda, president of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) Gujarat unit said that BMS had protested against the notification in all 33 districts. Chavda welcomed the Supreme Court’s directive to pay overtime wages to workers who worked for longer hours post notification.
The notification was the need of the day, said Natubhai Patel, president of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), adding, “it was required for making local industries competitive, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Longer working hours for workers could have been a win-win situation for owners as well as workers. Income of workers could have increased.”
Patel further said that 12 working hours include resting period, lunch time, among others. Practically in most of the factories, physical work is not exceeding four hours, he said, adding that mostly factories are situated in remote areas and in such condition two shifts instead of three shifts saves money on transportation of workers as well as maintains continuity of processes.
Ajit Shah, secretary of Federation of Industries Association (FIA) Gujarat said that extension of shifts was a good decision especially for the manufacturing sector as it would reduce the movement of workers and enhance consistency in production activities. Owners are ready to pay more, but they want continuity and consistency in the manufacturing process, added Shah.
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