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Indian state enforces anti-worker law

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7 March, 2023On 23 February, Karnataka state government passed anti-worker legislation extending the daily working hours from nine to twelve.

According to the existing Indian law, Factories Act, 1948, daily working hours cannot exceed nine, and a worker cannot be asked to work for more than five hours without a 30 minute interval. 

Factories Act allows exceptions to those clauses, only in situations of exceptional press of work in a factory. Under the exemption, it allows state governments to extend the daily working hours up to twelve and a worker can be asked to work continuously for six hours without any break. Subject to the condition that the total number of hours of overtime worked in three months cannot exceed 75. 

The amended law, Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2023, was passed without any debate, not only extends daily working hours to twelve but also overtime working hours from 75 and a ¼  to 145 hours.

The Karnataka government claims that these changes are to create more economic activities, employment opportunities and to facilitate the increase in the daily maximum hours of work in order to increase productivity and boost the manufacturing sector in the country.

IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, Apoorva Kaiwar, says:

“We know that in practice many workers in the country have daily working hours going up to twelve, but the new law has put a rubber stamp on this illegal practice. The amended law violates ILO C001, which the Indian state has ratified. The Convention lays out that daily working hours cannot exceed eight. IndustriALL demands that this anti-worker law be immediately repealed.”

The new law also allows women to do night shifts. In the name of providing women with equal opportunities to work and earn without mentioning equal pay for equal work, the law allows employers to cut labour cost since women workers are paid lower wages than their male counterparts for the same work.

Prior to the Karnataka government amending the Factories Act, the Indian government passed new labour codes, amalgamating the existing labour laws, and extending working hours to twelve. The new labour laws are yet to be implemented.