The Karnataka government on Friday increased the working hours for employees deployed at factories to 10 hours per day. The Labour Department issued an order stating that all adult employees will have to work additional hours as opposed to the earlier cap of 8 hours per day.
“No adult worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory for more than ten (10) hours in any day and sixty (60) hours in any week,” the order states.
The state government has powers to increase working hours of employees under the Factories Act of 1948. The state government has exempted factories from the provisions of section 51, which states that no adult worker can work for more than eight hours per day and section 54, which sets the maximum working hours at nine hours per day.
However, the state government has not made any changes regarding over-time work performed by employees and the rules will continue to be the same in this regard.
The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) lashed out against the government, accusing it of driving workers to the path of bonded labour.
“10 hour work day. Post pandemic more will be squeezed out of workers bodies, already on the brink of starvation,” AICCTU said in a tweet.
10 hour work day. Post pandemic more will be squeezed out of workers bodies, already on the brink of starvation. (Super rich face no new taxes) Path to legalised bonded labour is truly being laid. We will fight this tooth and nail @BSYBJP The day of the workers will come. pic.twitter.com/u9cW1xVT1d— AICCTU Karnataka (@aicctukar) May 22, 2020
Earlier this month, the Labour Department had come under fire after it proposed the idea of relaxing labour laws. The then-Labour Secretary Captain Manivannan had held a meeting with industrialists and businessmen earlier this month. During the meeting, businessmen pushed for reduction in minimum wages and benefits like insurance and provident fund.
Manivannan had also announced diluting the process of issuing notices to employers who have not paid their employees. He had said that action would be taken only if the employer is making profits and has not paid the salaries. However, employers, who are unable to pay, would not be forced to do so.
Manivannan had received flak for stating that “Karnataka can do better than Uttar Pradesh” while referring to labour reforms. UP diluted its labour laws earlier this year, which raised several concerns about rights of employees and humane working conditions.
On May 12, Captain Manivannan was transferred out of the Labour Department and the state government replaced him with Industries Secretary Maheshwar Rao, who was given the additional portfolio of Labour. The brazen move was criticised by many after which the government posted Dr Rajkumar Khatri as the Labour Secretary last week.