As TN toes Kerala, chairs will secure healthy environment for working women, opines CITU

Chennai: As Tamil Nadu toes neighbouring Kerala in ensuring seating arrangement for the salespersons in shops and establishments, the CITU w...


Chennai: As Tamil Nadu toes neighbouring Kerala in ensuring seating arrangement for the salespersons in shops and establishments, the CITU which was instrumental in impelling the government to bring about a Bill in the Assembly, says the move will secure a healthy environment for the working class.

Apart from sparing them the drudgery of standing constantly even when there are no customers to attend to, it will go a long way in improving their health, opines A Soundararajan, president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Tamil Nadu committee.

The issue however did not appear to go well with the industry association and activists who claim that it may not be feasible to provide seating arrangements for all the employees due to paucity of space.

On Monday, Minister for Labour Welfare and Skill Development C V Ganesan introduced a Bill to amend the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act, 1947, making it mandatory for shops and establishments to provide seating arrangements for employees working in shops and commercial establishments.

"Considering the plight of the employees (who were made to stand throughout the duty time), it is felt necessary to provide seating facilities to all the employees in the shops and establishments," the bill stated.

"The bill is the result of our long struggle, especially by the women members who sought appropriate seating arrangements in shops for the benefit of women who suffered uterus problems and several men who suffered from varicose veins," Soundararajan said.

Speaking to PTI on Tuesday he said immediately after Kerala ensured a legislation (The Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2018) that mandated seating arrangements for workers, the CITU prevailed upon the Tamil Nadu government to bring about a similar act to safeguard the health of thousands of men and women who spent almost the whole day standing to serve the customers.

"This is similar to the seat for the conductor in the government bus as he deserves to rest while not issuing tickets. We had staged an agitation half-a-century ago demanding a seat be provided for the conductors in the government buses," he said.

Soundararajan called on the Labour Minister and submitted a memorandum seeking the enactment of a bill.

"I reiterated the demand during a meeting with the Minister. The bill fulfills our long pending demand. Now the salespersons can get a seat to rest,” the former legislator said.

"This is more a compassionate Bill. Those employers who are already caring don''t need this but the concern is about those who don’t care for the workers. How do we ensure this?" asks K E Raghunathan, Convenor, Consortium of Indian Associations.

Obviously, when customers step in, the employee cannot sit and handle them especially when items from the shelf need to be exhibited.

"When there is no customer, they are required to fold and push the items from the table to the shelf. So how do we estimate their idle time and expect them to be seated?" he asked and wondered what would happen if the employer provides a chair but the employee decides to stand.

"Who will be made accountable under such circumstances?" he asked.

V Subramanian, a rights activist, argues that the move is ''unfeasible.''

"Unlike the banking sector which requires the employees to remain seated, the workers in shops and malls have to be on their toes to attend to the customers. Practically it is not possible to implement in the shops that face paucity of space," he said.

"We are not asking the owners to provide seats for all the employees. Atleast some arrangement could be made to provide few seats so that the salespersons could take turns to sit. In a bus, the conductor does not sit throughout the journey, but then he requires a chair to save him from possible health complications in future," asserts Soundararajan.

-News Feed

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