Facing flak from trade unions, the government of Tamil Nadu has decided to put the Factories Amendment Bill 2023 on hold. The bill, increasing working hours for factory workers from eight hours to 12 hours, passed on last Friday and was considered a move to woo foreign investors.
The decision to put the Bill on hold was made public, late in the evening on Monday. After the bill was cleared, it invited protests from Unions backed by the ruling DMK and its allies, including the Congress and the Left parties. The move may have benefitted sectors like information technology, electronics, textile, and non-leather footwear. The bill included 12 hours of working time, four days of work, and three days off in a week.
Trade unions were of the view that the bill can be misused by employers and is anti-labour. “It will be disastrous for the workers in the state besides provoking absolute anarchy in industrial relations management,” the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said in a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin. Following protests, Stalin had assured that his administration will take all the concerns raised by the Unions into consideration
Interestingly, on February 24, Karnataka became the first state to allow 12-hour shifts in factories and nighttime work for women. Tamil Nadu’s move was to match with the competing states, in efforts to attract more investors.