Free Press Journal

RSS-affiliated BMS opposes proposed changes in Factories Act


New Delhi: Raising strong objections to the proposed amendments in the Factories Act, RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has demanded key changes in it including reduction in working hours of workers from the proposed 12 to six hours a day. It has also sought decrease in the “threshold limit” (of workers employed) of factories to bring them under the purview of Factories Act. Since lessor number of workers are employed these days due to mechanisation, factories with fewer workers also need to be made liable and accountable under the Act.

The BMS, which is holding tripartite talks on the proposed amendments in Factories Act today, has also raised objections to proposed handing over of power to frame rules to Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Board of technocrats, which it has termed as “highly centralised”. The right-wing workers’ body has also demanded that women and children be not deployed on hazardous jobs, and women should not be given night shifts.

“Working hours are increased in the case of spread over, overtime, weekly hours etc. Due to mechanisation, the production which a worker was making 100 years ago can now be made within half the time or less. So the present working time has to be decreased to 6 hours or less as per a scientific study,” the Sangh said in its objections.

“We have given a charter to our objections and demands to the Labour Minister. We are also putting across our views during the tripartite talks. If government does not agree to our demands, we will then agitate and take to the streets,” BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay told PTI. In their objections to the Labour Minister, the Sangh has said, “Rule making powers of Parliament and Assembly are shifted to an OSH Board containing technocrats. It is also given powers to make its own procedure. It is a highly centralised body with wide powers.” It said, “the Board should be a tripartite body since welfare of workers, working hours, leave, health and safety of workers etc. are covered under the amendments.”

In its demand charter, the BMS has also said factories with upto 40 workers are exempted. But, factories and manufacturing units running with 100 workers 40 years ago can now run with less than 20 workers due to increased mechanisation and computerisation. “So the threshold limit has to be reduced and not increased,” it said.

“The directors of any company are exempted from any liability under the Act. Liability is cast upon managers,” it said in its objections, adding that chapters in existing Factories Act on Health, Safety and Welfare have been deleted and they are left to be decided by a Board which will be constituted later.

BMS also raised objections on women and adolescent workers having to work near dangerous machines. The BMS said “Ease of living” is equally important along with “ease of doing business” and register books of workers are replaced by electronic web enabled service.

“Employment of young persons, children etc. are to be made according to ILO standards,” it said while objecting to the proposal.