When the Factory Act 1948 was first introduced, it was meant to protect factory workers from exploitation. As India began to modernize, more and more people were leaving the fields of agriculture for steady employment in factories. The act was meant to ensure that employers provided a safe environment for their employees and that they followed certain guidelines with regards to wages and benefits. It also governed how many hours a day an employee could work per week, as well as how much of their pay constituted overtime pay.
This week, we’re taking a look at one particular law in India’s history: the Factory Act 1948. This law was one of the first legislation passed in India after independence. We’ll discuss what this legislation was intended to do, and the three things it attempted to prevent. But why were there so many laws related to factories? What prompted this many laws? And why was this legislation met with such resistance from manufacturers?
In 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru pushed for the enforcement of a series of new laws as a means of protecting India’s workers from exploitation. In June 1948, the first Factory Act was introduced as a means to ensure that Indian workers were provided with decent wages and working conditions. The following month, another law was introduced, the Factories’ Control Act 1948. Both of these acts were meant to instill a sense of security in labor.
Over the next two years, a number of additional laws were introduced to protect India’s workers. In 1951, a law called the Industrial Disputes Act 1951 was passed which provided for a government-appointed factory inspector. The same year, another act was passed that required employers to provide their employees with proper sanitation and toilet facilities as well as health care and education facilities.
By 1952, some additional legislation had been passed including: The Factories Act 1951; the Factories Rules 1952; and the Industrial Disputes Tribunal Act 1952. While all of these laws served important purposes, it was the Factory Act 1948 that was the major focus.
The basic purpose of this legislation was to regulate the treatment of workers in factories. Specifically, it sought to ensure that employers provided their employees with certain workplace amenities, including access to water and toilets, as well as proper lighting and ventilation. Further, it attempted to prevent under-payment of wages and exploitation. And lastly, it provided for a minimum wage for work in factories based on a worker’s type of employment.
As you can imagine, the act caused quite a bit of controversy among the capitalistic business community. Many factory owners were concerned that these laws would result in them losing their profits. Further, there were also concerns regarding the regulation of their employees. Some felt that regulation posed an unnecessary burden on business owners who didn’t want to pay for amenities like water and toilets to be provided in their factories. Lastly, there was resistance from workers themselves who felt it wasn’t right to make them pay for benefits they already received from the government. In addition to all of this, there was criticism from communist groups who felt that it didn’t do enough to protect workers from exploitation and unfair wages.
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