Lok Sabha passes bill to increase cap on overtime in factories

NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which includes a provision to increase the cap on overtime in factories.

The Opposition alleged the proposed amendments were pro-corporate and would not benefit the worker and walked out of the House before the bill was passed.

According to the amendment bill, the overtime work hour, under Section 64, has been doubled from 50 to 100 in a quarter and to 125 under special circumstances through a special notification.

The government pushed the bill through braving objections/amendments from some Opposition MPs — raised at the stage of introduction and later during passage.

The enactment of the legislation, seen as a major relaxation of labour law, was sought by the industry as an incentive for boosting production even as trade unions cutting across party affiliations had opposed it.

The legislation empowers the central government, in addition to the state governments, to make exempting rules and orders in respect of total number of hours of work on overtime in a quarter, which would ensure uniformity in its application by various state governments and Union territories.

Piloting the bill, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya asserted that it was “not against the interests of labour” and pointed out that “the International Labour Organisation has prescribed the upper limit of 144 hours.”

He also rejected charges of some Opposition MPs that the bill would take away the powers of the states. The minister said that the legislation would give a fill-up to the need to address the shortage of certain technical labour.

Fomer labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress questioned the ‘hurry’ in bringing ‘selective amendments’ while holding back the comprehensive Factories (Amendment) bill, 2014, which was ready after being processed by standing committee with the proposed amendments.

Karge said, by holding back that bill, the government was excluding many proposals that benefit workers, especially safeguards against employing children, pregnant women, etc in hazardous industry.

He also alleged that the two amendments on enhancing working hours will hit fresh recruitment and thus employment opportunities. Kharge said the consensus from political parties and trade unions was to enact the comprehensive bill which included many incentives for workers.

Many members objected to the introduction of the bill by pointing out that it amounted to by-passing the pending comprehensive bill of 2014, which they said should be brought in immediately. Sankar Prasad Dutta of CPM said the provisions of the bill were similar to the one introduced in 2014 and asked why those amendments were not brought in.

NK Premachandran (RSP) said the bill encroached upon the rights of the states and was against the federal structure of the country.

Credits ET Realty

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