‘Right to Sit’: What is standing in the workers’ way

Employees working in shops and establishments in Tamil Nadu can now, as per law, claim the Right to Sit. Photo: PTI (for representational purposes)

For the past 15 years, Mansoor Khan has spent his work hours literally on his toes, stealing a moment or two, sitting on his haunches, hiding from the prying eyes of his manager at a textile showroom in Coimbatore. By the time his shift gets over, Khan says, he struggles to drag his aching body home. And he is just 35.

“After standing constantly for 10 to 12 hours every day, there is hardly any life left in your hips and legs. Sometimes a sharp pain runs through the lower back,” he says.

Khan is among the better offs. Some of his colleagues have developed chronic health problems such as varicose veins, sore feet, swollen legs and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

So, when the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a bill on September 13 that makes it mandatory for establishments to provide seating facilities to all employees, workers like Khan couldn’t have been more relieved. The Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments (Amendment), Bill 2021, came as a pleasant surprise to thousands of workers, especially to those in textile and jewellery showrooms,  since it was tabled in the Assembly on September 6 without any sustained campaign or concerted demand from workers across the state.

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