A combination of various Trade Union bodies in India has submitted a memorandum to the Union Labour Minister, stating their opposition to the apparent plan of the Centre to change the Factories Act, 1948 and hike daily working hours to 12 hours a day from the existing 8 hours a day. Earlier in the day, a news article appeared in the Hindustan Times newspaper, saying the Union government was mulling such a change. The paper said the government was considering this as it expected fewer working hands due to largescale lay-offs which was also criticised by the trade unions.
The full text of the memorandum is as follows.
“11th April 2020
The Union Labour Minister
Government of India
Sub: Proposal to make 12 hour working day by the government
A news item appeared in the Hindustan Times today stating that the Government of India is considering changes in the Factories Act,1948 that will alter the existing 8 hour working day to 12 hours. This would mean the normal 48 hour work a week would be hiked to 72 hours a week. It is also being suggested that since there will be fewer hands to work in these days of corona virus as a result of retrenchments, the proposed change in working hours has become necessary. The statement further makes it clear that as there are exceptional circumstances prevailing in the country, exceptional provisions have to be made.
We the undersigned representatives of various trade union organisations strongly oppose this move to increase the number of working hours from eight to twelve as it will put further burden on the workers. In the first place given the present corona virus scenario in the country, it enjoins upon the government to take measures that protects and creates employment and not reduce the workforce. Allowing employers to resort to retrenchments on the one hand and augmenting production on the other are anachronistic and not acceptable. It is true that there are exceptional conditions prevailing in the country and in the world also, but the measures being contemplated by the government run counter to the interests of a whole mass of working people and at the same time serve the interests of employers. At this time it is imperative for government to boost demand in order to revive the economy and therefore create jobs and lift wages.
We would also like to remind government that the 8 hour work day is protected by the ILO Convention No.1 defining a cardinal labour right.
We therefore urge government to ensure that the proposed measures to increase of increasing working hours is not considered any further and set aside.
Thanking you, Yours Sincerely,
Gautam Mody, General Secretary, NTUI
S.Venkateshwar Rao, President, IFTU
Thangaraj, General Secretary, NDLF
Vijay Kumar General Secretary, AIFTU (New)
Kanhai Baranwal, General Secretary, IFTU (Sarvahara)
Sanjay Singhvi, General Secretary, TUCI
Sudipta Pal, Advisor, ECLTSAU
Kailash, President, IMK
B. Pradeep, General Secretary, IFTU
Som Nath, Secretary, JSM”