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Mixed response to government’s move to allow women in night shifts

Maharashtra government’s decision to make changes in the Factories Act, 1948, that will allow women to work in night shifts in factories, has evoked a mixed response from different sections of society.

The decision was taken yesterday at a meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

While some people have welcomed the decision, others want the government to be cautious so that the decision does not backfire.

“This is a very bold decision that the government has taken and it can backfire with unwarranted consequences. The government must reconsider it before implementing,” a senior Labour Commissionerate officer said on condition of anonymity.

“Undoubtedly, women have always been vulnerable to crime and this is why even Britishers did not do so,” he said.

“But, if the government ensures that employers get CCTVs installed in working premises and drop facilities are provided, then it would be more a dignified way of empowerment of women,” he added.

A senior manager working at an ordinance factory in Ambernath welcomed the decision, saying, “It shows we are moving ahead with fast changing scenario across the world and the amendment in the Act will certainly enrich opportunities for working women.”

Maharashtra State Women Commission’s former chairperson Susieben Shah said, “I welcome the decision which will prove prolific for women. But I would expect from the government that it imposes sufficient sacrosanct guidelines to ensure the safety and security of this gender.”

“There should be proper and conducive environment to work and even security guards appointed by employers should be women in ample numbers,” Shah said.

Activist and former bureaucrat-turned-lawyer Abha Singh welcomed the move, but also cautioned the government.

“There may be a spurt in sexual harassment cases at workplace, hence committee to serve Vishakha guidelines must be strengthened with full vigil and there should be proper security and environment within the premises,” she said.

Observing that this move will cater to the rise in women workforce, she said, “Proper pick up and drop facilities should be provided to women by the employer.”

However, former labour minister Nawab Malik, said, “This is not a new decision. Such a move was already in practice as a decision to this effect was taken by the previous government. This government is trying to cover up its failure from all sides by pushing up this so-called amendment. This is a publicity stunt, nothing more than that.”

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