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Labour department in Bangalore finds it hard to regulate safety norms in IT, BT companies

Source | Nov 04 2015 : The Times of India (Bangalore)

Safe-world-for-WomenA month after a 23 year-old BPO employee returning home from work was gang-raped in a vehicle in southeast Bengalu ru, the labour department is find ing it difficult to ensure that IT BT, ITeS firms put in place proper measures to ensure their women staffers’ safety.

In the absence of transpor provided by her company in Bom manahalli, the woman had hitched a ride in a Tempo Travell er to her Madiwala PG accommo dation on the night of October 3 and was raped by two men in the vehicle. In the aftermath of the in cident, the labour departmen had said it would crack down on ITBTITeS firms not providing transport and other facilities to employees.

However, when labour offi cials sought to take action, it came to light that a department circular had tied their hands, as it specifically barred random inspection of ITBTITeS companies in the city.

Labour department officials said they can act only if there is a specific complaint against a company, and can even check if the company is following various service rules. However, the depart ment was unable to provide statistics of the number of complaints they have addressed, but estimate that about 4-5 complaints reach them every year.

The circular banning random inspection of ITBTITeS companies was issued on November 20, 2010, to improve Karnataka’s status as an investor-friendly destination. It exempted IT compnaies from some provisions of the Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, and stipulated that labour officials could visit companies only with prior permission from the commissionier.

“Companies did not want to deal with `inspector raj’. The order was passed based on the belief that companies would take the required measures for he safety of their employees,“ labour commissioner Vishwanath said.

“In case of the Madiwala gang-rape, the BPO was not even registered under the Shops and Commercial Establishment Act.It was a fly-by-night firm that didn’t care about its employees.However, many IT-BT companies and BPOs take responsibility for their employees. At the meeting with the police commissioner and labour department, where even the IT&BT secretary was present, we made the process norms clear to the companies and they were very satisfied with it,“ said KS Vishwananth, vice-president, Nasscom.

“We have decided to hold awareness programmes through various associations informing companies, especially startups and newer firms, to follow rules.These programmes will be conducted in hubs and clusters across the state,“ said principal secretary V Manjula.

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