KERALA

‘Right to sit’ becomes law

It’s a hard-fought win for the thousands of women workers in shops and commercial establishments in the State, who had come out on the streets seeking a decent working environment.

During their protests, they had also said that in between the long hours they were at work, they had the “right to sit” .

All shops and establishments in the State will now have to mandatorily provide seating arrangements at work places for women workers, especially saleswomen, with the Governor on Tuesday promulgating the Ordinance approving the amendments made by the State government last year to the Kerala Shops and Establishments, 1960.

The draft Bill brought out by the government last year, proposing amendments to the 1960 Act, includes several provisions that shop owners are bound to make for the safety of women workers. It also includes other women-friendly initiatives, including providing seating arrangements for saleswomen during working hours as well as arrangements to ensure women’s safety during night shifts.

Minister for Labour and Excise T.P. Ramakrishnan, in a statement here, asked Labour officials to ensure that all shops and establishments, including restaurants, were implementing the amendments, now that these had become the law.

Last year, saleswomen in textile shops had staged protests for the “right to sit,” as they were required to stand for long hours, often exceeding 10 hours a day, during which they were not allowed to sit or even take toilet breaks. They were not allowed to sit even when there were no customers in the shop.