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Millennium Post

Night is right

Out of the suggested changes, allowing women during night shifts is a phenomenal idea, which is not only in keeping with the legal and political framework of the present times, but also a much needed requisite of current industrial labour relations.

Amendment of Section 66 of the Act would permit women to carry out the proverbial graveyard shift, but it would require the necessary beefing up of security and other provisions, including making the factory premises female worker-friendly. Facilities such as easy commutation and transportation, addressing medical needs of women staff, occasional psychological counseling, night care arrangements for their children, etc should feature prominently among the services that must be brought in so that the night shifts are free of the unfortunate but routine discrimination that characterises how the work force is treated.

Exploitation on the basis on gender, religion and caste is the usual narrative that hasn’t been erased and despite decades of legislation, most of the labour laws remain woefully inadequate as far as parity of the sexes is concerned. More often than not, the feudal mindset tells that male workers should be paid more than their female counterparts, even though the latter do exactly the same amount of hardcore physically exhausting work, if not more.

Hence, to extend the night shift to women is a point well taken but without adequate safeguards this is likely to stir the hornet’s nest of sexual harassment at work place, and in extreme cases, gendered and brutal violence specifically aimed at showing women their place. Awareness of gender equality is a must for any structural change within labour laws because without sociocultural education, no legislative amendment would bear desired fruits. This, in addition to increased entitlement to annual leaves with wages, hiked extra time hours and other betterments, would ensure a more just and equal labour relations.          
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