AGENCIES, Kolkata: As India enters the third phase of nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, millions of workers face a return to longer working hours.
At least six states have passed laws extending working hours from the currently mandated 8 hours per day to 12 hours per day. According to these governments, the aim is to ensure that companies can operate with fewer workers and reduce the number of shifts while meeting targets.
The Rajasthan government, which passed the notification on April 11 extending working hours for three months, says this would allow firms to run operations for six days with a reduction of 33 per cent capacity of “people passing through the facility”.
As per the Rajasthan rules, the additional four hours will be counted as overtime. Other states that have passed similar rules include Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, says a report in NDTV.
The Gujarat government, which passed its guidelines on April 17, said wages for the extra hours will be in proportion to existing wages. The rules also say that workers must be given a break after six hours.
“The eight-hour shift was won after years of struggle by working class movements. It cannot be changed arbitrarily by governments. The changes are illegal, and can be challenged in court,” said Chandan Kumar, coordinator of the Working Peoples’ Charter, a Delhi-based collective of workers’ organisations to NDTV.