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To woo foreign investors, Tamil Nadu too clears bill allowing 12-hour work

Second state after Karnataka to take the decision; provision for 4-day work weeks

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Shine Jacob Chennai

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To woo multinational corporations in setting their manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu, the assembly on Friday passed a Bill allowing 12-hour shifts, as compared to the previous eight.

The move is likely to benefit sectors such as information technology, electronics, textile and non-leather footwear sectors. This may also suit Apple contractors such as Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron. Moving to India was part of the strategy by the global majors to become less reliant on manufacturing in China. Reports say Apple was looking to move at least a quarter of its manufacturing to India by 2025.

The Tamil Nadu assembly passed the Factories Amendment Bill 2023 on Friday, amid walkouts by some of the allies of the ruling DMK, including the Left parties. According to media reports, the Act includes 12 hours’ working time, four days of work and three days off a week.

On February 24, Karnataka became the first state to allow 12-hour shifts in factories and night shifts for women, when it cleared the Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill 2023 without a debate as the Opposition walked out in protest. Following this, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer Foxconn — best known for making Apple’s iPhones — had a project in the state with an investment of about ~8,000 crore.

Tamil Nadu Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu said law will be implemented in such a way that workers are not harmed in any way, targeting foreign companies. “The 12-hour work Bill is likely to apply to those who work in the electronics sector, non-leather footwear manufacturing and software sector,” Thennarasu added. According to the law, working for 48 hours a week is being kept. If the worker wants to work on the fifth day, after completing four days, the law provides the option of additional payment.

“The flexible working hours, including overtime and spread-over hours, which subsumes 13 labour enactment, will help develop better safety, health, and working conditions, apart from better remuneration to workers in the state. This initiative will help create large employment opportunities,” said A Sakthivel, president, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).

“This reform will attract more investments to the state and help the export industry in compliances-related issues in major markets. The demand for flexible hours was raised by workers frequently as it will help them get better remuneration,” Sakthivel added.

Textile industry, too, welcomed the Bill, stating that this will benefit the sector during peak seasons. “The flexible laws will help meet foreign buyer compliances in the overtime front, since buyers are insisting to follow the law of the land. During peak periods, the requirement of overtime is absolutely needed to meet the delivery schedule and do the shipment on time,” said K M Subramanian, president, Tiruppur Exporters’ Association. 

Work in progress

The Bill is likely to apply to those who work in the electronics sector, non-leather footwear, and software sector

If the worker wants to work on the fifth day, after completing four days, the law provides the option of additional payment

The Bill was passed amid walkouts by some of the allies of the ruling DMK

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First Published: Apr 21 2023 | 7:14 PM IST

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