Back to 8-hr shift: Rajasthan does a UP on daily working hours

Rajasthan was the first state to increase the working hour limit to 12 hours from 8 hours on April 11 in view of the limitations due to COVID crisis

Ashok Gehlot
The Chief Minister alleged that Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, other BJP leaders and some over-ambitious leaders of the Congress party were conspiring to bring down the Congress government in the state. Photo: PTI (File)

The Rajasthan government has withdrawn its order that allowed the increase of daily working hours in manufacturing companies to 12 hours from 8, days after Uttar Pradesh did the same.

The move comes after the state felt that there would be no paucity of workers during the lockdown, thanks to the Centre’s revised guidelines for manufacturing units reopening after the lockdown.

Earlier, the Centre had asked manufacturing units not to aim for high production targets, limit the number of workers as per the zones they were in, red, orange or green, and take all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and avert any industrial accidents. Also, back then, the movement of workers was restricted in red zones.

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The Rajasthan government was the first to issue an order to extend the working hours, on April 11, which was followed by Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and eight other states.

But in the latest order for Lockdown 4.0, starting from May 17, the Centre has lifted restrictions for manufacturing companies. Following this, Rajasthan withdrew its order to extend working hours, on Sunday.

“The shortage of workers is no longer a concern with the revised lockdown guidelines by the Central government. Companies are no longer bound to cap workers in factories and many units have opened up in Rajasthan. There are no restrictions on the movement of workers, too. Hence, the order has been withdrawn,” Rajasthan Principal Secretary (Labour) Niraj Kumar Pawan told Business Standard.

Related news: Central trade unions may approach ILO on labour laws suspension in some states

The order was welcomed by All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), which said it would urge other state governments to follow suit.

Maharasthra, Gujarat, Goa, MP, Uttarakhand, Assam, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are the other states that have extended working hours.

However, this move was met with resistance from trade unions besides the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which mandates only 48-hour-week (8 hours x 6 days) work. India, which is a signatory to the ILO convention, has been given an exemption to keep the limit at 60 hours a week (10 hours x 6 days).

The ILO had even written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over certain state governments issuing ordinances to scrap labour laws temporarily for about three years.

On May 15, the Uttar Pradesh government withdrew its order extending daily working hour limit to 12 hours after the Allahabad High Court issued a notice to the state on a public interest litigation challenging the legality of the order.

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