12 Hours Shift In Factory Is Not Only Exploitation But Also Leads To Depression, Occupational Stress And Suicidal Tendency : C. Srikumar, Deputy General Secretary of WFTU

AITUC, INTUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, AICCTU, MLF, LLF and WPTUC are all agitated with Tamil Nadu government over this dictat

Image Courtesy : Apparel Resources

The Tamil Nadu Assembly has recently passed a Bill amid opposition by the alliance partners of the DMK Government including the CPI, CPI(M), Congress, VCK and MDMK. The bill was to amend the Factories Act 1948. The Amendment called as the Factories (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act 2023, has incorporated provisions to increase the daily working hours from 8 hours to 12 hours.

The Act empowers the State Government to exempt any factory or group of factories from any or all of the provisions of Section 51 (Weekly Working Hours), Section 54 (Daily Working Hours), Section 55 (Intervals of Rest), etc. The labour minister while moving the bill in the assembly said that this amendment was made after considering the representations from multiple Industries and their Associations.

The Central Trade Unions of Tamil Nadu except the ruling party affiliated LPF have now decided to observe series of protest agitational programs throughout the State of Tamil Nadu and in all the industries which will culminate into a one day strike on 12.05.2023. The Joint statement issued by the Tamil Nadu State Committees of AITUC, INTUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, AICCTU, MLF, LLF, WPTUC have demanded that the Tamil Nadu Government should immediately withdraw the amendment made in the Factories Act for increasing the working hours from 8 Hours to 12 Hours per day.

The Trade Unions have warned that in case the Government is not prepared to withdraw the amendment then they will observe various statewide action programs including a strike on 12.05.2023. As a damage control exercise, the Tamil Nadu Government has appointed a committee of 3 Ministers to negotiate with the Trade Unions. However, the Trade Unions stick to their stand that there is nothing to bargain or negotiate, their demand is that the amendment should be withdrawn.

The Tamil Nadu Government which was maintaining cordial relationship with its Political Partners and Trade Unions, is now in a fix.

To know the reasons why the Central Trade Unions are opposing the amendment brought in the Factories Act for increasing the Working Hours, especially when the Government is repeatedly assuring that the weekly working hours will remain as 48 hours and that the workers will enjoy 3 Days Holidays, www.indianpsu.com asked for the views of Shri C. Srikumar, National Secretary of AITUC and also the Deputy General Secretary of WFTU and who is also from Tamil Nadu.

His statement against the decision of the Tamil Nadu Government is published here for the benefit of our viewers. He said “we never expected that the DMK Government will take such a anti-worker decision in a hasty manner. What I understand is that based on the pressure from the Industrialist and also the ill advice given by the Bureaucrats, the Tamil Nadu Government without even holding any discussions with the Trade Unions have resorted to such a retrograde step. All over the world the trend is for lesser working hours in all the industries. Not only as a Trade Union representative but also as a student of Psychology I want to critically analyze the decision of the Government and its impact on the physical and mental health of the workers. Many studies conducted across different countries have proved that long working hours cause severe adverse effects on both physical and psychological health of the workers which has sometime even lead to suicidal ideation in the workers. Dissatisfaction with supervisors and with colleagues also are observed while the workers are deployed on long working hours. Job strain and long working hours are important occupational risk factors amongst the workers. Long working hours also will have serious impact on the efficiency of the workers. Many incidents we have seen in the past that the soldiers in the Armed Forces and Para Military Forces who were deployed on long working hours without rest have gone to the extent of killing their superiors. Increased working hours will also affects the quality and duration of sleep. All the studies on long working hours have concluded that the result is aggravated anxiety, depression, burn out and as a result long working hours disturbs the working life and family life of the workers”.

He said that the Industries and Corporate Organizations always take advantage of any relaxation given in the Statutory Acts. They have no concern for the physical and mental wellness of the employees. In today’s context even with all statutory regulations, the workers in the Private Sectors are exploited and they are forced
to work around 60 to 72 Hours in a week without giving any additional compensation. The Private Corporates take advantage of the unemployment prevailing in our country. The number of educated unemployed youth in our
country is increasing day by day. This has facilitated the employers to hire employees on a “Hire and Fire” Policy and in many industries the employees are not able to protest against such exploitative practices since the employers do not allow any trade unions to be formed in these sectors.

He added that India is one of the founder members of ILO. The regulation of working hours is one of the oldest Convention / Labour Legislation adopted by the ILO. The very first ILO Convention adopted in 1919 limited the daily working hours to 8 hours and weekly working hours to 48 hours. In 1935 and 1962 ILO has adopted two conventions setting out the principle of the 40 hours per week. Being a welfare state, it is for the governments, both Central and State to take care of the welfare and the interest of the employees. In the name of “Investment” “FDI” and “Ease of doing Business”, etc the Government’s are only interested in taking care
of the requirement of the Industrialist and the Corporates.

In a few days the whole world will be Celebrating the 138th May Day. The Exploited Labour claws of the Industrial Town of Chicago who were forced to work more than 16 hours per day revolted against the human exploitation and on the 1st of May 1886 came to the street and fought for 8 hours Work, 8 hours Recreation and 8 Hours Rest. Due to their sacrifice and Martyrdom and the struggle of the International Workers 8 Hours working has been achieved. At any cost the workers and their Trade Unions cannot surrender this right for benefiting few Industrialist and Corporates. The struggle will continue and I hope good wisdom will prevail on the DMK Government of Tamil Nadu and will come forward to withdraw the retrograde amendment in the Factories Act 1948 passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly concluded Shri C. Srikumar.

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