Withdraw Sec 65 A of Tamil Nadu Amendment to the Factories Act 1948 forthwith!
Exemption for Industries to Implement the Law of working Hours!
The ruling DMK led state government of Tamil Nadu has inserted a section 65 A to the Factories Act 1948 in order to pay heed to the wishes of industrialists and big corporate companies, and thus doing a great injustice to the working class in the state.
While DMK government is succumbing to the interests of the employers, why is it not considerate to the demands of the working class?
Is the working class of Tamil Nadu being victimised in order to serve the whims and fancies of the employers?
Ignoring the walk out of the opposition parties by its own coalition partners in the legislative assembly, the amendment was passed, in less than a minute, by voice vote. None was given prior information about the amendment and no debate was allowed on such an amendment with far reaching consequences on the lives of crores of workers in the state. By this amendment, the applicability of sections 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 59 of the Factories act 1948 is being exempted for certain industries or a group or category of industries.
8 hour work-day is a hard-earned right of the working class secured through fierce battles with the capitalists of the world. In the course of the historic struggle for 8 hour work-day, several workers leaders were put behind bars and had to undergo inhuman torture and repression. Several leaders became martyrs in the struggle. The right for 8 hour work was secured only by shedding blood and by sacrificing several lives of workers and their leaders. Even comrade Singaravelar was exiled for forming union and for hoisting flag for the first time in the entire country in Chennai. 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of rest has been an accepted norm of any civilised society. In the background of vociferous demand for 6 hours of work per day due to massive improvement in technology and changes in production systems, this amendment to increase the working hours to 12 hours per day is only turning the wheels of the history backwards. 12 hours work is synonymous with a barbarian society and is highly condemnable.
The employers' associations, while welcoming the amendment said, It is very useful to the foundry industry. Foundry industry is where workers have to work in very hot, hazardous and dangerous conditions amidst melting iron ore which is affecting their health very badly and actually requires reduction in working hours. Foundry industry is also prone to frequent accidents.
Least cared for the existing mandatory right of 8 hours work, IT industry is highly exploitative with extended hours and can conveniently use this amendment to further their exploitation.
When most of the workers are not at all covered under the ambit of trade union membership, it is ridiculous that the DMK ministers of Tamil Nadu say that such an exemption will only be based on the choice of workers. The voice of whole working class of Tamil Nadu is to withdraw the amendment lock stock and barrel.
Because of the enabling acts, the system of bonded labour and child labour are under control. If it is left to a choice, only an anarchy can prevail. That is why Dr. Ambedkar said, we have to cultivate the constitutional morality among people.
It is not that 48 hours per week, the hard won right is 8 hours per day!
The amendment is being carried out in violation of section 39(e) of directive principles of the constitution which talks about the need to protect the health of the working population. The amendment is against the basic tenets of social Justice. Social Justice cannot only be limited to reservation, it encompasses all rights - economic, social, cultural and political rights of working population.
The provisions for exemptions are already engrained in the Factories act in section 65 (1), (2) and (3). The inserted new amendment 65 A is aimed at not making exemptions to a rule but only to make exemptions to be a rule.
The great visionary Singaravelar observed the first May day in India at Chennai in 1923 marking the struggles and sacrifices to secure the right for an 8-hour work-day. Unfortunately, the amendment by the DMK government is being brought in only to undo the century long struggles launched from the soil of Tamil Nadu.
AICCTU appeals to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to immediately withdraw the anti-labour amendment. AICCTU also calls upon the workers of Tamil Nadu to continue the struggle independently and also jointly with other Central trade unions until the anti-labour amendment is withdrawn.
After the bill was passed, leaders of the central trade unions called for a joint meeting and expressed their resolve to fight it back. The DMK led LPF was conspicuously absent in the meeting. The meeting came out with a series of programs including a state level strike on May 12th.
On receiving the information, a team of Ministers met the trade union representatives including AICCTU. Subsequently, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu announced that the amendment is "put on hold" for the time being.
Welcoming the gesture by the Chief Minister, the trade unions insisted for a total withdrawal of the amendment. Finally, the DMK came around and announced complete withdrawal of the amendment on 1st May.
The workers struggle and the unity of trade unions have been successful in forcing the DMK government to withdraw the anti-labour amendment in Tamil Nadu. Similarly, the working class of the country is now gearing up for total withdrawal of anti-Labour Codes which has declared a war on the working class, including 12 hour work-day.