CHENNAI: In a move largely welcomed by traders, shops and commercial establishments in Tamil Nadu, employing at least 10 people, can now stay open for 24 hours all through the year, according to a notification issued by TN Labour department on Thursday. The department passed an order altering the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishment Act 1947 to this effect.
The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment had sent a model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill 2016, seeking uniform working conditions across the country. As States and union territories could modify its provisions, State Labour Secretary Sunil Paliwal sent a proposal permitting all shops and establishments in the State to remain open 24x7 on all days of the year, initially for three years. The TN government accepted the proposal with certain conditions.
Activists expressed concerns that if the conditions were not enforced, workers would be exploited. The notification says an employee can’t be made to work more than eight hours on any day and more than 48 hours in a week. An employer may let a woman to work between 8pm and 6am after obtaining her written consent and providing adequate protection.
Provide offs on rotational basis, drop for women staff working in shifts: Govt
The notification also stated that every employee shall be given one day off in a week on a rotation basis, and the employer should exhibit details of employees who are on holiday/leave on a daily basis in a conspicuous place in the establishment. The wages, including overtime wages, of employees, should be credited to their savings bank account. Transport should be provided to woman employees who work in shifts.
Further, transport should be provided to woman employees who work in shifts. If employees are found working on any holiday or after normal duty hours without proper indent of overtime, penal action will be initiated against the employer/manager. Welcoming the move, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu state president Vikramaraja said it would put an end to police atrocities against traders. All shopkeepers in the State had been asked to install closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) which would be helpful for police to crack criminal cases, he added.
However, Vellaiyan, leader of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peravai, expressed reservations over the notification, stating that it would only benefit mall owners not traders. Meanwhile, activists warned that the development could result in exploitation of labour as the government is yet to come out with any plan on enforcing the conditions stipulated in the notification.
“Already workers are being made to work for more than 12 hours in inhumane working conditions where they are not allowed to sit and no action has been taken in this regard,” said Geetha Ramakrishnan, adviser, Unorganised Workers Federation. Similarly, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) president of Tamil Nadu chapter A Soundarrajan stressed the need to protect workers’ rights and said the section of the notification highlighting their rights should be implemented.
Move evokes mixed reaction in Kovai
Coimbatore: The Government Order allowing commercial establishments to function nonstop evoked mixed response from the Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Association. The Coimbatore regional head Chandrasekaran said,’’ All the traders union were continuously requesting the government to allow establishments to function till 2:00 am. The G.O. is welcomed, but a few rules mentioned in the order such as the order will be applicable only to the establishments in which more than 10 workers are employed is not fair. It does not help small shops, eateries, bakeries and grocery shops.