Karnataka ban on women working in night shifts

      Karnataka ban on women working in night shifts

      The Government of Karnataka has been trying to shirk any responsibility for the safety and security of half its population ie women and is also depriving them of their right to work.

    Any one who has had the misfortune to interact with the Labour department in any state knows how and why cases are foisted on companies and CEOs.

extracts from a report in TOI

     New Delhi. After exempting IT and ITES companies in 2002 from the general ban on women working in night shifts, the Karnataka government initially proposed that such employees should not only be provided free two-way transport but also that the vehicles carrying them should each have a security guard. 

   This was mentioned in the draft rules issued by the labour department inviting objections and suggestions from all concerned. The rules notified in the official gazette however replaced the security guard clause with a stipulation that transport facilities shall be provided with “adequate security.”
        This change apparently followed a feedback from women employees, who constitute about 70% of the ITES workforce, that having a security guard in the vehicle might actually increase threat to them. Since the expression “adequate security” was left undefined, the call centres in Karnataka worked out their own measures to comply with that condition and intimated them from time to time to the labour department.
        According to the documents accessed from the SC, it was against such a legal backdrop that a woman employee of Bangalore-based HP GlobalSoft, Pratibha Srikantmurthy, was raped and murdered allegedly by an unauthorized driver, Shivakumar, after she had been picked up from her home around 2 am on December 13, 2005. The complaint lodged with a magistrate by the labour department accused the then CEO of the company, Som Mittal, of not providing “adequate security” — but without any substantiation.
        The complaint made a bald assertion that the charge was being made after “verifying” the company’s report of the safety measures it had claimed to have adopted to comply with the condition of “adequate security.” In the event, the safety measures listed out by the company included a 24×7 “help desk” which the woman employee was supposed to contact if a new driver turned up in place of the one who had been regularly ferrying her.
        Mittal has a strong case as the labour department, taking undue advantage of the outrage over Pratibha’s tragedy, had gone beyond the law in implicating him personally.

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