Laborers forced to work for more than allotted hours
jasleen kaur batra | 26 Feb 2011

With various acts and amendments brought into effect to give a more qualitative life to factory level workers, many organisations irrespective of their standing, continue to exploit workers.

ARE THE acts passed by the government doing any good to the Indian workers? The government of India passed an Act called the Factories Act, 1948, which laid down the terms and conditions to provide a better work environment for the workers.

The act said that all workers must work for nine hours a day, and mentioned the safety measures all construction or manufacturing-based  companies must follow to ensure their safety. The government further made an amendment in this Act, which was passed by the Cabinet last Tuesday.

According to the latest amendment made, workers are supposed to work for ten hours a day instead of nine. This decision was taken to help multinationals. This amendment also brought its way a few amendments for the workers. The workers must get at least seven hours rest period between two shifts. Transportation facility from their lodging place to work place must be provided, etc.

Unfortunately, the public and private sector is paying no attention to this as workers have been working for more than ten hours a day for a long period of time.
Ram Paresh, a worker from Bihar who has been working on this project from the past five months said, “We work from seven to seven every day. We are 28 people here and all of us work for the same amount of time. Sometimes when there is a rush to finish a particular thing we are asked to do overtime, on such days we work till nine.”

When a Chief Engineer, Azmat Khan, was asked about this act and its amendment, he expressed ignorance. “I’m sorry but I’m unaware of this Act. To be honest I have never even heard of it”.

A lot of construction sites also fail to provide workers with proper equipment and masks. A lot of workers cut granite without any mask, which is a must for such a job. “We don’t get any masks, we do this for almost two hours at a stretch as putting these slabs take a long time,” said Chandan a laborer working in Grover road.

Despite of several Acts and laws, which were brought into effect to protect the interests of labourers, it is evident that Act or no Act, employers do whatever they want to do irrespective of any reforms made in the system by the government.