AITUC raises objections to 12-hr factory work rule, says it violates ILO Convention

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The All India Trade Union Congress has asked the government to immediately withdraw its proposal of 12 hours of factory work time proposed in the draft rules of the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH&WC), saying it is in contravention of the ILO Convention to which India is a signatory.

“AITUC is shocked at the audacity of this government in suggesting a 12 hour shift in spite of the recent Supreme Court judgment striking down a similar provision introduced by the Gujarat BJP government,” the central trade union said in a statement on Sunday.

“It is also a contravention of the very first ILO Convention (Hours of Work Industry Convention, 1919 (No. C001), ratified by the government and which is currently in force,” it added.

AITUC also alleged that the government got the three codes passed ‘undemocratically’ in Parliament in the September session in the absence of the members of the opposition. “Going by this experience, this 45 day consultation exercise over the three Codes may also be just an eyewash,” it added.

According to AITUC, there are many other draft rules which, in absence of any inspection, will only add to the resolve of the working class to further intensify the efforts for the nationwide strike on November 26.

The 10 central trade unions have called for a nationwide strike on November 26 against the unilateral policies of the government, which they term as anti-worker and pro-corporates.

The labour ministry had on Friday made public the draft rules under the OSH&WC Code proposing to cap the number of working hours in an establishment at 12 in a day – higher than the current 10.5 – and 48 in a week. The proposal is in line with recent moves by some states to extend the daily working hours to 12.

The draft rules also provide for a single licence for contractors and staffing firms, allowing them to operate across India with one registration as against multiple state or location-specific registrations.

It prohibits the hiring of contract labour for core activities, which will be defined by the appropriate government and may include work of perennial nature.

“The period of work of a worker shall be so arranged that inclusive of his intervals for rest, it shall not spread over for more than 12 hours in a day,” the ministry had said, while capping the total work hours permitted in a week at 48.

The ministry has sought views of stakeholders on the draft, seeking to operationalise the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions over the next 45 days, following which the rules will be finalised.

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