With migrant workers heading back to their home states, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday allowed 12-hour work shifts until June 30 in factories across the state that are facing shortage of labourers. However, labour unions opposed the move, alleging that it may lead to job losses for many.
Sources in the state labour department said that the decision was taken after a demand was raised by an industry association citing shortage of labourers.
“We had received representations from two industry bodies requesting that 12-hour shifts be allowed citing shortage of labourers, as many have gone back to their villages. The government has allowed 12-hours shift till June, exercising the power given in the Factories Act,” Labour Minister Dilip Walse Patil said.
As per the Act, an eight-hour shift and an additional one-hour overtime is allowed, said officials.
The order issued by Deputy Secretary (Labour) Shrikant Pulkundwar stated that factories, which are facing the shortage of labourers, are being permitted to allow 12-hour work shifts with certain riders. According to some of these conditions, factories should pay double the regular wages to the labourers for the additional four hours of work. Also, the factories are expected to take all possible precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their premises, ensure safe distance is between two workers and make wearing masks mandatory.
“The factories that have been allowed to operate amid the lockdown can benefit from this. But this is applicable only to those industries that are facing labour shortages,” said Pulkundwar.
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According to the labour department, there are 36,623 registered factories in the state with 28.54 lakh workers engaged in them. Among them, 5,458 factories are operating with 2.41 lakh labourers as on Wednesday.
Sources in the department termed the decision as a “win-win situation” for both industries and labourers.
“The government wants to restart economic activities and there is shortage of labourers with a large number of migrant workers heading back home. So, it will not only help the industries in running their operations but also help labourers earn some more money. The relaxation can be extended further if required,” said an official.
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