Taking cue from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, a number of states have announced temporary changes in factory laws to allow for longer shift times with mandatory higher wages, but the same have come under some criticism from workers’ unions.
According to a PTI report, Mehta, chairman and managing director of HUL, during an online interaction organised by Samhita Social Ventures and IDFC Institute, said, “One has to understand that you will be able to handle the factories with far fewer workers and the risk of infection would go down significantly.”
He said social distancing can be practised in the best way if fewer workers man the factories, hinting that such a move will help take care of concerns related to spread of the virus infections. “There is an inherent benefit that instead of 100 workers, you could be working with two-thirds the workers and reduce the risk of infection, that is where the benefit of the 12 hour shift comes in," he said.
Mehta also said that such moves should be accompanied with paying of higher wages by the companies, proper rest and also social security measures.
Meanwhile, trade unions have been terming the 12 hours shift or 72-hour weeks as a ‘dangerous trend’ saying the four extra hours per day will have an adverse impact on the workers’ health and are pitching for relaxations.
Meanwhile, Mehta said HUL has had a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the impact of the pandemic which includes taking care of all the 2.5-lakh employees and stakeholders, keeping the supply chains functional and supplementing the government efforts of relief and having a sustainable business model.