- GS 2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States
- Recently, the Tamil Nadu government has tabled a bill, which makes it mandatory for business establishments to provide seating arrangements for their employees, who stand for long hours — particularly those working in textile and jewellery showrooms.
- If passed, Tamil Nadu would be the second state after Kerala to legalise the ‘right to sit’ at the workplace.
- This new Bill is meant for thousands of employees, especially women, attached to the retail sector.
- According to the Bill, the premises of every establishment shall have suitable seating arrangements for all employees so that they may take advantage of any opportunity to sit which may occur in the course of their work and thereby avoid ‘on their toes’ situation throughout the working hours.
Need for the Bill
- People employed in shops and similar establishments are made to stand for long hours that lead to various health issues.
- Some shop owners are so harsh that they forbid even leaning against the wall.
- The Bill would guarantee that the workers in these establishments avoid ‘on their toes’ situation throughout the working hours.
Kerala’s right to sit
- In 2010, saleswomen and female cleaners and sweepers in retail establishments in Kozhikode, Kerala came together under the leadership of the Asangatitha Meghala Thozhilali Union (AMTU) to demand toilet facilities.
- AMTU became the first all-women trade union that focuses on workers in the unorganised sector in Kerala.
- Then in 2014, AMTU has sent representations to the state government and the Kerala State Women’s Commission, demanding better working conditions, including the right for salespersons in shops to sit.
- In 2016, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Kerala government on the poor working conditions of women at textile shops in the state.
- The Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2018, was passed in December 2018, guaranteeing improved working conditions in commercial shops.
- These steps are in line with Article 42 of India constitution, which states that State shall make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work.
- These provisions ensures that the shop owners are not exploiting the workers at their own will, and work in a regulated environment.