Workers need be saved from the plutocratic design

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Under the cover of Corona, Orissa Chief Minister has played the nastiest tricks on the poor workers by allowing the machine owners to force them work for 12 hours a day instead of 8 hours.

Since long, the avaricious industry owners and their association had been putting pressure on the governments- both at the Center and in the State – to help them get more works done with less number of workers.

Corona gave Prime Minister Modi and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik the golden opportunity to fulfill their desire.

Calculatedly the surprise lockdown was clamped down on the country on March 24. Industries used the lockdown to eject the workers out of their job in order to ruin their morale. Mostly migrant, they were pushed into utter disadvantage, with no scope to return to their home-states because of the lockdown.

When they were no more in a position to use their collective power against exploitation, a gang of Secretaries in the Modi Government met on 13th April and resolved to enhance the working period from 8 hours to 12 hours a day. The justification for mischief was social distancing. If the industries would function with full workforce, social distancing may not be maintained, they argued. Hence a reduced number of workers with longer working hours was shown to be the solution. Modi must have felt that, immediate implementation of the Secretaries’ recommendation may generate strong resentment, as the workers were not completely pushed into pusillanimity. So, to multiply their disadvantage, the lockdown was extended till May 3.

But in Orissa, the chief minister and his close mandarins are too crafty to be challenged by the working class. On May 8, Orissa changed the hours of man-days from 8 to 12 hours. The Government had no qualms in admitting that the decision is taken in accordance with the wishes of industries and their association. Below is the extract of the Government order.

Considering the representations of certain Industries and Industry Associations, Government of Odisha has decided to provide certain relaxations for industries and commercial activities from 20th April, 2020.

As if the heart of the Chief Minister is bleeding for the workers, the document says that the workers are begging to work for more than 12 hours, But the Government has decided that “No adult worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory for more than 12 hours in any day and 72 hours in any week.”

The government document also wants us to believe that the female workers are eager to work for more than 12 hours in the night also. But, the Govt is so kind and considerate that, it has ordered,”no female workers shall be allowed or required to work in a factory between 7PM to 6AM unless specifically permitted by Government in this regard.

It has so coined the order that the workers shall have to stay in the factories for at least 13 hours. But hoodwinking as is the wont of Sri Naveen Patnaik, the document created by his government curiously says: “The total spread over shall not exceed 13 hours.”

So, the industries and their association wanted to engage less number of workers for more number of hours and the Government obliges them by ruining the morale of the workforce.

The workers need be saved from this plutocratic design that has been promulgated under the cover of Corona virus.

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