Bengaluru, May 2, 2020: The state government is considering a change in a 1948 law to allow longer shifts in factories as it works out ways to help factories cope with fewer workers and high demand -- and all against a context where the ongoing nationwide lockdown is likely to continue beyond April 15.
The change will allow companies to extend the daily shift, from the current accepted norm of 8 hours, six days a week (or 48 hours) to up to 12 hours, six days a week (72 hours). It is likely to increase production in industries, which have been hit by the lockdown.
The proposal has already been implemented in Gujarat and Rajasthan. “It will help industries, primarily small, medium and micro enterprises tide over the economic crisis through excess production and less downtime,” said Karnataka Employees Association president BC Prabhakar.
The proposal was advanced by the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industries at a meeting with chief minister BS Yediyurappa. Sources say the government has “in-principle” agreed to the request.
“As per the proposal, factories and industries can execute a 12-hour work shift without overtime by reducing the number of working days from six to four. This will help us maintain social distancing and give employees additional time with their families,” said a senior industries department official.
However, trade unions are unhappy and claim the government is favouring industrialists at the cost of employees. They also allege it’s another form of exploitation.
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) are planning to oppose the proposal. “During the lockdown, workers on eight-hour shifts spent an additional four hours travelling to work and back. In case of 12-hour shifts, they will effectively come home only to rest,’’ lamented VJK Nair, vice-president, CITU. “If factories want labourers to work for 12 hours, they should provide accommodation nearby,’’ he added.
INTUC Karnataka chapter in-charge SS Prakasam said: “The only way factories/industries can implement the proposal is by giving employees overtime for additional four hours of work.