Thursday, October 13, 2011

IT sector can't claim exemption from Standing Orders Act

'IT sector can't claim exemption from Standing Orders Act'

BAGESHREE S.

BANGALORE, October 13, 2011

* The sector in Karnataka has had 11 straight years of exemption from the Act

* A proposal to renew it again is pending before the Labour Department

* It can lead to exploitation, says women's commission

Nearly five lakh people work in the IT and ITeS sector in the State and about 40 to 50 p.c. of them are women, according to Karnataka State Women's Commission Chairperson C. Manjula. — File Photo

Nearly five lakh people work in the IT and ITeS sector in the State and about 40 to 50 p.c. of them are women, according to Karnataka State Women's Commission Chairperson C. Manjula. — File Photo

The Karnataka State Women's Commission has raised objections to the exemption given to the information technology (IT) industry from the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, on the basis that it leaves wide ground for exploitation of women in the sector.

This is a legislation under which an employer in an industrial establishment has to define "with sufficient precision the conditions of employment under them" and make "these conditions known to the workmen employed by them." The law is strict on classifying workers, working hours and shifts, wages payable, leave, attendance and so on.

Letter

Commission Chairperson C. Manjula told The Hindu that she had written to the Principal Secretary, Information Technology, saying that a blanket exemption from these conditions could lead to sexual and other forms of exploitation, especially of women, in the industry.

Exemption from the legislation on standing orders was last renewed in 2009 for a period of two years. It expired on August 25 this year. The industry has thus had 11 straight years of exemption from the Act. A proposal to renew it again is pending before the Labour Department.

While all industries which have staff strength of over 100 have to declare standing orders, which is approved by the Labour Department, the IT industry has been exempted from its purview on the ground that it does not "fit the requirements of a knowledge-based industry."

Ms. Manjula said that the commission had been getting an increasing number of complaints on women being terminated from service in IT and IT-enabled services companies without even a proper domestic inquiry. Such immunity from the law of the land, she added, could not be claimed on any grounds by any sector.

The commission had held a meeting last month with Labour Commissioner S.R. Umashankar to study the existing rules and regulations. She had said during the meeting that the commission had received five formal complaints, but innumerable phone calls and informal complaints from women who feared that a written complaint would cost them their jobs. An estimated five lakh people work in the IT and ITeS sector in Karnataka and about 40 to 50 per cent of them are women, according to Ms. Manjula.

On work hours

It may be mentioned here that ITEC (IT & ITeS Employee Centre), a support forum for IT professionals, had recently raised objections to the IT companies in the State urging the Government to extend the working-hour deadline for women employees from the existing 8 p.m. They had said that extension of working-hour deadline "will only help IT/ITeS establishments to abstain from their responsibilities of transportation and security for women employees till 10 p.m."

Courtesy_

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