- After much discussion, the Centre will finally go ahead with its proposal to amend the Factories Act of 1948 by giving flexibility to State governments to fix the threshold limit.
- But concerns are flagged by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
- In 2014, the Centre had proposed changes to the Factories Act following requests from state governments to hike threshold of number of workers in a manufacturing unit covered under the law.
- At present, all those factories having 10 workers (using electricity) and 20 workers (without electricity) are covered under the Factories Act, 1948.
- But after three years when the Centre’s is finally moving ahead to amend the Factories Act 1948, it is opposed by many.
- The Standing Committee, examining the proposed changes is of the opinion that if the amendment is carried out, more than 70% of the factory establishments in the country will be out of the coverage of the Factories Act and workers will be at the mercy of employers.
- The trade union also warned the government that India will be under the risk of increased factory calamities like Bhopal tragedy in every Indian town.
- They further said that safety provisions are highly diluted in the proposed amendment.
- Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) also picked holes in the Ministry’s decision, saying that allowing online applications for licenses and Web-enabled random inspections may lead to mushrooming of illegal units everywhere.
- The size of factories in India has reduced dramatically from 100 workers 40 years ago to 10 workers due to increased automation.
- As a result, most factories in India have less than 40 workers.
- Thus the government needs to remove all threshold limits and apply the law to all factories irrespective of number of workers.
- The amendment should also take care of the interest of all the three stakeholders’ viz. industries, workers and the society living around it, which the current one misses out.
Factories Act, 1948:
- The Factories Act, 1948(Act No. 63 of 1948) serves to assist in formulating national policies in India with respect to occupational safety and health in factories and docks in India.
- It deals with various problems concerning safety, health, efficiency and well-being of the persons at work places.
- The Factories Act, 1948 is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment through its Directorate General, Factory Advice and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) and by the State Governments through their factory inspectorates.
Directorate General, Factory Advice and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI):
- DGFASLI was set up with the objective of advising the Central and State Governments on administration of the Factories Act and coordinating the factory inspection services in the States.
- It serves as a technical arm to assist the Ministry in formulating national policies on occupational safety and health in factories and docks.
- It also advises factories on various problems concerning safety, health, efficiency and well-being of the persons at work places.
- DGFASLI’s headquartersin Mumbai maintains overall liaison with its Central and Regional Labour Institutes, frames policy, plans and executes the programs concerning the organization on matters pertaining to safety, health and welfare of workers in industries and docks.
The important provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 are as follows:
- No adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in a factory:- (i) for more than forty-eight hours in any week; and/ or (ii) for more than nine hours in any day.
- Where a worker works in a factory for more than nine hours in any day or for more than forty-eight hours in any week, he shall, in respect of overtime work, be entitled to wages at the rate of twice his ordinary rate of wages.
- Where a worker is deprived of any of the weekly holidays, he shall be allowed, within the month in which the holidays were due to him or within the two months immediately following that month, compensatory holidays of equal number to the holidays so lost.
- The periods of work of adult workers in a factory each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed five hours and that no worker shall work for m
- Every worker who has worked for a period of 240 days or more in a factory during a calendar year, they shall be allowed during the subsequent calendar year, leave with wages for a number of days calculated at definite grounds.