Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Karnataka Government to allow women to work in night shifts

Sometimes one wonders what our ministers are smoking. They believe that their words are like those coming from a god's mouth, being true and the right course of action. Then they feel the full impact of the public reaction to their words, and have to beat a humiliating retreat. One wonders how often ministers deploy their foot-in-mouth syndrome, and even though it makes enjoyable reading sometimes, it can stir debates that one would rather not start.
In the latest example, the Karnataka cabinet beat one such retreat when they announced that the Government would bring in an ordinance to scrap a recently passed amendment to the law that prohibits women to work in night shifts. This sounds confusing, so let me try again; Karnataka had a law since 1961 that apparently prohibits employing women in night shifts. In an amendment of the law passed last month (and ratified by the governor (wonder whether he reads laws that he signs?)), the government enhanced the penalty on those violating the law. The Minister for Labour and Wakf, in a May Day meeting to his party workers, had been exultant about the State Government passing a law that prohibited women from working in night shifts, no doubt anticipating praise for being women friendly. Refer this article:

Karnataka Government on Monday decided to promulgate an ordinance to scrap the law that bans employing women in night shifts, Minister for Labour and Wakf Iqbal Ansari said.
The cabinet on Monday held informal discussions in the face of women organisations demanding abolition of the provisions of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act 1961 which prohibits employing women in night shifts, Ansari said after the meeting.
In a clear somersault, Ansari said Karnataka had not imposed ban on night shifts for women as such a provision already existed under the 1961 Act. However, in the light of the government's decision to scrap the ban, the recent amendment which received Governor T N Chaturvedi's assent on April 27 and was notified in the Gazette on April 30 will be put on hold, he said.
Addressing JDS workers at the May Day celebrations in the city, Ansari had announced that the government had passed a legislation banning employment of women in night, stirring up big a controversy.

What neither he nor the Government had anticipated was the furore over his statement. Karnataka has a strong IT and ITES industry who have both men and women working in night shifts, and women workers were not easily likely to give up the ability to work in night shifts, a restriction that seems strange in todays world. In the light of such protests, the Government had to quickly rollback its plans and announce this changed decision.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 5:39 AM