KOCHI: Despite the Kerala government amendment, a year ago, to the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act directing the commercial establishments to provide sitting facilities to the women employees, several renowned shops in the state are flouting the directives.
When Express spoke with some of the employees of renowned textile firms in Kochi they said that they were denied seating facility inside the firm. According to the employees, the amendment made to the KSCEA is only on the paper.
“Though the company provided some chairs after the amendment in the Act we are still forced to stand whole day inside the shop. We are not even in a position to question it as we are afraid of losing job. Most of the employees have leg pain and other issues. The chairs that are arranged in some shops are just an eyewash in order to escape from the labour department,” said a woman employee in Kochi on condition of anonymity.
‘Curbs on using toilets ’
According to the workers, the situation is not just about Kochi city alone but other parts of the state too. “Some of our friends who are working in other firms have a similar experience. Some firms have set up restrictions for the staff to use the toilets. But no one is ready to come up and speak against it as they are all worried about the job security,” said another employee.
It was last year, the government had decided to amend the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act to prevent sexual harassment against women employees and ensure the establishments provide sitting facilities for their employees in the shops.
“We are really worried about the response from the employees as many are still forced to stand from morning to evening. We have already prepared a questionnaire and that will be distributed to each such employees in the state. Based on the report we will file a case against the firms who flout the rules.
“Since we are not going to reveal the name of the employees, it will not affect them. We are also planning to launch the right to sit campaign by associating with ‘Penkoottu’, a group working for the rights of women employees based in Kozhikkode,” said P Viji Secretary of Asangatitha Meghala Thozhilali Union (AMTU).