Bengaluru, June 13, 2020: The State government has withdrawn a controversial notification that extended the maximum working hours, from 8 to 10 per day and from 48 to 60 per week, for all factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948.
The government in the notification, issued on May 22, had extended the working hours for three months [till August 21, 2020].
Deputy Secretary, Labour, Sandhya L. Nayak said the government’s notification stood withdrawn.
The increase in working hours was sought by the Commerce and Industries Department, following a demand from industry bodies, including the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Karnataka Small Scale Industries’ Association.
Industrialists claimed that recovery would be aided by increasing the hours of work and had petitioned Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, seeking that the work timings be raised.
However, many labour unions had opposed the government order. Trade unions had met Labour Minister A. Shivaram Hebbar and Chief Secretary T.M. Vijay Bhaskar and registered their protest against the move.
The Union government too had raised objections to the notification and directed the government to withdraw it. The International Labour Organisation had petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opposed the dilution of labour laws during the lockdown.
The High Court of Karnataka on May 29 asked the government to justify the existence of “public emergency” in the State to grant exemption from Factories Act, as “public emergency” had been defined as “a grave emergency whereby the security of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression of internal disturbance”.
Also, the court had asked the government to explain whether exemption could be granted to all factories, as Section 5 of the Act stated that the government, during “public emergency”, could exempt any factory or class or description of factories, and not a blanket exemption to all factories. The court had posed these queries while hearing a PIL petition.
Speaking in Bengaluru on Friday, Mr. Hebbar hoped that the withdrawal of the order would remove any apprehensions and concerns among workers. This would come into effect from Friday itself, he added.
The BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh too had withdrawn an order on increasing working hours in factories after the decision was challenged in the Allahabad High Court.