The joint house committee of the state legislature on women and child welfare recommended that women working in Information Technology (IT) and Bio-Technology (BT) companies not be assigned night shifts in the interests of their safety. The recommendation was made in the committee’s 32nd report on Monday.
The committee, headed by NA Haris, had interacted with the employees and management of Infosys and Biocon during their visit to the organisations in 2016 followed by which it made the recommendation.
MLA NA Haris categorically denied wanting to bring in a ban on women employees working on night shifts but believes prevention is always better than cure. He cited the example of Amazon which has already shifted women working in the US night shift to the UK shift.
“We have to understand that women working on night shifts have children and families to take care of. They also have a bigger moral responsibility of grooming the future generation,” he said adding, “Men too have a greater responsibility – to protect women at large.”
Stating that the government wants a safe society for people to live and work in, Haris is of the view that in many places women are forced to work on night shifts, which must be avoided. “Whenever possible assigning women on night shifts but where there is no chance, they can go ahead,” Haris told India Today.
This recommendation might also go against the state government’s historic decision to remove restrictions on allowing women to work on night shifts in all sectors. This was done to provide equal opportunities to women. The government had amended the Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961 and the Factories Act 1948 to make the changes in the work schedule.
But this recommendation has not gone down too well with many, especially in the IT sector. Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education and a former member of the board of directors of Infosys, has lambasted the government for even thinking on these lines. “This is a ridiculous assertion in the 21st century and shows a medieval attitude in the minds of the committee members as well as its chairman,” Pai said.
He added that this recommendation is clearly an admission that the government is failing to protect its citizens, which is its constitutional obligation. “This is not acceptable. The government should not meddle with people’s personal lives. If people want to work at night, they should work. There are health and safety standards which they must comply with. It is in no way the government’s business,” Pai told India Today.
According to him, this will also portray our nation in a bad light since Bengaluru is India’s global city today. “What will the world think of us when we have people saying women cannot work at night and women cannot travel at night? The city should be shut down early? But, what are we paying taxes for then?,” he said questioning the government. He claims the reason for this is the misuse of the police force by politicians.
Pai said that it is the duty of the government to protect us all since we pay taxes and that citizens must have an uncompromising attitude on such issues. “If this does not end now, tomorrow they might say women should stop working,” he said.
“I am disappointed that Haris has chaired a committee which has made such suggestions,” he added.
Pai is confident that this recommendation will not pass through as he believes that there will be no supporter for it. “I don’t think sensible people will accept this. I don’t think even the CM and the women of the city will accept this,” he said adding, “instead of recommending on how to protect women and improve policing, they are focusing on such ridiculous issues.”