The Uttar Pradesh government has walked back its decision to extend daily working hours in industrial units to 12 hours, but its ordinance proposing similar timings—and awaiting the President’s approval—still remains in place.
The withdrawal of the decision to raise timings from eight hours was communicated to the Allahabad High Court on Friday by Uttar Pradesh’s Principal Secretary for Labour, Suresh Chandra, following a notice on a public interest litigation. The hearing of the PIL was scheduled for Monday.
The state had decided to increase working hours using Section 5 of the Factories Act-a measure that has also been implemented in at least ten states including Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
The Factories Act, 1948 allows state governments to exempt factories from provisions related to working hours for a period of three months if factories are dealing with an exceptional amount of work.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued an ordinance, for which approval from the President is still pending, proposing a three-year exemption to all factories and establishments engaged in manufacturing from all labour laws except provisions of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, and those relating to employment of children and women.
The ordinance had proposed that workers “cannot be required to work more than eleven hours a day and the spread of work may not be more than 12 hours a day”.
“To bring economic activity back on track, new investment opportunities would need to be created along with fastening the businesses processes and productivity,” a statement issued last week by the state had said.