Shops and commercial establishment can now operate round the clock on all seven days for a period of three years in Tamil Nadu. A gazette notification was issued by the State’s Labour Department on Thursday with certain conditions which emphasized on many aspects including the safety of women employees. After Maharashtra and Gujarat, Tamil Nadu becomes the third in the country to adopt the Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service bill.
The notification prescribed 11 conditions to be adhered by shops and commercial establishments. According to the notification, the women employees would not be required to work beyond 8 pm in normal circumstances. The employer can, however, allow a female employee to work between 8 pm to 6 am, only after receiving a ‘written consent’ from her. The other conditions include that every employee should be given one day off in a week in a rotation basis and the person should not be required or allowed to work more than 8 hours a day.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Madurai Sreenivasan, the Secretary of Tamil Nadu Hotels Associations, said: “Our association members are ready to open their hotels 24×7. We were demanding the government to pass this order for a long time; finally, it has been approved. This is great news not just for us, but also for the public. In many households, both husband and wife are employed. They reach home late and hence they won’t be able to go shopping, they depend on weekends. Now, they can happily spend their time on all days. Also, if all shops, hotels are opened there will be plenty of lights in the street, so on the safety aspect also this order works big time.“
When asked whether their hotel employees would be paid more since they work in night shift, Sreenivasan said ‘no’.
“The order has clearly mentioned that even if the employees work in the night time, they should be working only for eight hours and not more than that. That’s the normal working hours, we are not going to ask them to work beyond that and similarly the workers will be paid the same amount they get when they work in the day,” he said.
AM Vikrama Raja, the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam President, said: “The six-year demand has been finally answered. The government has said all shops can remain open, It hasn’t specified only big shopping outlets can remain open, which will give the small retail outlets a huge profit. It will boost employment, and our Sangam members will support the theatre owners, police department, etc. on this issue. People need not worry about safety, the police have instructed us to have CCTV installed in our shops and we will follow it.”
“If any shop owners feel threatened or get harassed by the cops, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam will stand with them,” he added.
Though the order aimed to boost the employment generation and help the retailers, it has received mixed reactions amongst small shop owners. K.Rajan, who owns a mechanic shop in Tambaram, said, “I came to know about the government order through one of my customers. For small shops like us, the order doesn’t do much. We are far away from the heart of the city; even if we work in the night, we won’t be getting customers in the night time. Moreover, the cops will use this as an excuse to demand a bribe from us.”
Vijaya Raghavan, who works in a private company in Shollinganallur, Chennai’s IT corridor, felt the government’s order to allow shops to remain open 24×7 is definitely a welcome move. “We work in night shifts. Our shift timings end at 3 or 4 am, and we will be hungry at that time. We had no other choice than to head to a restaurant present inside our premises. The food quality won’t be that great, they will be serving only limited items and even that would be expensive. Now we have the choice to step out and can eat in nearby restaurants.”
What about the women? Do they think our state is equipped to function 24×7 safely? The answer is not so much in favor of the order. Srinithi, who works in a private sector in Chennai, said, “I think our city needs to be better equipped to function 24×7, even our country isn’t ready for it fully. Yes, it’s exciting that night-outs are possible now, and shopping can be done at a convenient time but safety remains a big question mark. I wouldn’t want to venture out in night till I feel the place is secured.”
Indravathy, a retired Treasury officer, Trichy, said: “For people like me, if the medical shops and are open 24×7 then it’s a good move, but I am not sure about the other establishments. For Instance, my house is near to the market road; if they allow all the shops to remain open there will be chaos even in the night time, there will be traffic all through the night. We sleep peacefully only in the night-time and now that’s going to be affected.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines