Opposition criticises amendments to Factories Act
New Delhi, April 11: Opposition on Tuesday criticised the government in the Rajya Sabha for proposing amendments to the Factories Act, saying these are anti-labour and will hit fresh job creation.
The opposition members charged that the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will help the industrialists. They also questioned the government for bringing this bill in a hasty manner when Factories Amendment Bill 2014 is still alive.
Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya moved for consideration and passage the bill that seeks to amend provisions related to overtime hours of work.
Initiating a discussion on the bill, Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the changes mooted were not in favour of workers.
"This overtime of 125 hours will not lead to rise in production and employment. It just favours capitalists, industrialists and their friends," Patel said.
The move would lead to exploitation of workers and is not in favour of workers as well as general public, he added.
Attacking the government over its promise to provide 2 crore fresh jobs in the country, Patel said that in 2015-16 employment was given to only 1.03 lakh people.
"Over one crore people are entitled for employment. There are no fresh jobs," he said.
He said the government claims that the economy is growing and added, "If that is the case, why are there no jobs in the country?"
He said the government should try to make policies for the betterment of workers.
"Why are you bringing such laws? Why are we thinking only about industrialists? We are not against the industry but why such actions against workers, he said.
The Lok Sabha had passed the bill on August 10 last year. It seeks to double the overtime working hours to 100 in a quarter for factory workers.
Among other changes the bill also allows for overtime of upto 125 hours per quarter in public interest.
Ravi Prakash Verma (SP) said the government is trying to make the labourers "insecure" through the bill.
The factory owners will exploit labourers if this bill is passed, he added. "If overtime hours are increased, labourers will not be able to give time to their families."
Verma said the condition of labourers is already bad after the demonetisation.
A Vijayakumar (AIADMK) said the amendment to the factories Act would result in overlapping of powers between the Central and state governments, which is against the principle of co-operation and federalism.
Ahamed Hassan of (AITC) asked the government why it is bringing this amendment bill in such a "hasty manner" when Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 is still pending.
He said the bill is an attempt to interfere with the federal structure and dilutes power of the states.
Calling this bill as "anti-worker" and "anti-labour", Hassan said the government is working towards the benefit of industry. He also noted that public interest has not been defined in this Bill and this could lead to arbitrariness.
Opposing the Bill, Tapan Kumar Sen of CPI (M) said the permissible overtime hours is being proposed to be increased upto 125 hours per quarter from current 50 hours which is injurious to interest of workers.
"You are depriving a big chunk of unemployed workforce," he added.
Stating that unemployment is expanding like cancer, Sen said the Bill is a crime proposed to be committed on millions of job seekers.
Sen also opposed the government's move to push this bill when the Factories (Amendment) Bill of 2014 is still alive and a parliamentary standing committee has already submitted its report on that.
This is "legislative impropriety of the highest order," he said, while noting that the government has put at stake its credibility and trustworthiness.
Sen charged that the government, through the bill, is trying to legalise the "ocean of illegality" being committed in factories against the labourers.
"12 hours is order of the day in most of private factories," he said, adding that the need of the hour is to reduce working hours and not raise the permissible overtime.
The government is not working for labour and instead helping employers in the name of ease of doing business, Sen said, adding that he will move the amendment Bill.
Supporting the bill, V Vijaysai Reddy (YSR Congress) said industrial sector growth is being restricted due to stringent laws. "I sincerely feel by bringing these amendments, ease of doing business will improve. That will contribute to the GDP".
However, he expressed concern that this bill could have an adverse impact on employment generation as well workers health and productivity.
"Even then this bill has to be supported as it contributes to GDP," Reddy said. He asked the government to introduce a comprehensive Bill to amend the law.
T K S Elangovan (DMK) said the bill seeks to protect employers instead of workers.
He said the increase in overtime hours will "reduce the scope of fresh unemployment" and deprive young fresh graduate seeking employment.
Noting that overtime hours are being increased in the name of public interest, the DMK leader asked, "Are labourers not public?"
Elangovan also wanted to know what is public interest.