The Maharashtra legislative assembly on Thursday cleared amendments to the Factories Act which aims to free companies from the shackles of Inspector Raj.
This was done despite a strong reservation from the Opposition which said that there were not enough rules to guard the interests of labourers.
The bill will now be moved to the legislative council for approval.
The amendments aim to exclude more than 14,300 units from the preview of the Factories Act, 1948, and pave way for women to work in night shifts.
Replying to the Opposition on Thursday, labour minister Prakash Mehta said it was essential to boost trade in the state.
“No woman can be forced to work in the night shift unless she wants,” said Mehta. “The factories need to take the government’s permissions for employing women.”
He said the state government was committed to the labour class’ welfare. “Anyone setting up shop in the state would have to abide by the labour rules,” he added.
After Factories Act is amended, the units operating without electricity can increase workers from 20 to 40 and those using power can increase from 10 to 20 workers.
According to Independent legislator Bacchu Kadu, large industrial houses are breaking labour laws with impunity. “We are seeing major industrial houses retrenching workers with impunity,” said Kadu.
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal blamed major industrial houses of trying to blackmail the government by threatening to move out of the state. “These factories will never leave Mumbai and Maharashtra but they just make noise, saying they would move out of the state if labour laws are not amended,” said Bhujbal. “The government should ensure that the rights of labour class are not compromised,” he added.
In other amendments, one does not need prior approval of the management for overtime work. The government has proposed an overtime of 115 hours from the present 75 hours for workers in small-scale industrial units.