12-hr workday norm withdrawn, won't compromise on workers' welfare: TN CM
He said the controversial Act has been rolled back following apprehensions expressed by several trade unions.
The Tamil Nadu government has withdrawn the Factories (Amendment) Act 2023, which extended the working hours to 12 a day, in the interest of workers, Chief Minister M K Stalin said on Monday.
Asserting that it needed courage not only to usher in reforms but also in accepting consensus opinion on an issue, he said the controversial Act has been rolled back following apprehensions expressed by several trade unions.
Addressing May Day celebrations at the May Day Park here, the Chief Minister said the Factories (Amendment) Act 2023, which allowed flexible working hours for industries upto 12 a day, from 8 hours, has been withdrawn in the interest of workers.
"I never construed giving in as an insult. I regarded it as a matter of pride because it requires courage not only to ensure legislation but also to withdraw a bill. That's how Kalaignar (former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi) trained us. It was withdrawn within two days of trade unions' expressing doubts," he said.
Information on the present status of the bill would be communicated to all the legislators soon, Stalin said and added, "We will not compromise on the welfare of the workers under any circumstances. Industries should grow and workers should prosper," he said.
The bill was brought to attract huge investments to Tamil Nadu and also to provide employment opportunities to the youth, Stalin said taking potshots at the BJP-led government at the Centre for yielding to pressure to withdraw the controversial farm laws, only after struggle and sacrifice; and also the previous AIADMK regime which targeted the government employees and opposition leaders by invoking the ESMA and TESMA.
On April 21, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed the Factories (Amendment) Act 2023 providing flexible working hours for employees in factories across the State, amidst protests and claims by several parties that the Act would stretch the mandatory working hours to 12 hours from the present 8 hours duty.
The bill was passed by voice vote as the ruling DMK enjoyed a majority in the House and also because other allies like the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) supported the government.
Tabling the bill to amend the Tamil Nadu Factories Act, 1948, Labour and Welfare Minister C V Ganesan had said the State is the hub of major manufacturing companies and has the highest number of factories and industrial workers in the country.
"Representations were received from many industries and industry associations by the State government to bring out working hour reforms by making statutory provision for flexible working hours, citing the number of benefits it could bring for workers, especially women employees, industry and the economy as a whole," Ganesan said.
On April 24, the State government announced that it was withholding the implementation of the said Act, following protests by several political parties and labour unions.