ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women Workers in the Factory

How will the amendments to the Factories Act affect women workers? How do women view the "protections" and night work?

The central government is proposing to amend several labour laws. The process of amending them has been underway since 2011, which means that it is not only the new dispensation that is eager to make these amendments; such changes in labour law were on the agenda of the previous government too. Without going into ­either the merits or the desirability of all the amendments proposed, I would like to look at some of the amendments to the Factories Act1 through which women workers will be specifically affected.

The logic that a factory has to employ a certain number of people for it to be governed by the Factories Act, and for its workers to get facilities such as toilets and drinking water, begs the question as to why the most vulnerable of workers – those working in small factories – should be lawfully deprived of even their basic rights as workers. This is a question that many trade unions have continued to ask. Small entrepreneurs no doubt need some amount of protection from the state, but there is no reason as to why this should be at the cost of their workers, who are obviously worse off.

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