SHILLONG, June 10 - Meghalaya Labour department has started cracking down on shopkeepers in the State capital here who have been violating norms by keeping their businesses open all seven days of the week.
Under the Meghalaya Shops and Establishment Rules, 2004, a notice of weekly closure is to be prominently displayed in every shop. The shops and establishments are at liberty to choose any day of the week to keep their businesses closed.
Around 90 per cent of the shops remain closed in the State Capital honouring the Labour law. However, this law was being blatantly violated by some of the shopkeepers and keeping their shops open all seven days of the week especially in Police Bazaar and GS Road area and Bara Bazaar.
These shops kept their shops open on the pretext of cleaning their establishments, but continued doing their business and denying the labourers engaged without giving them one day holiday in a week, which is mandatory.
But for the past few Sundays, Labour Inspectors have been going from shop to shop and asking them to down shutters or face penalty. This has provided the much needed relief and rest to the workers in these shops in this unorganised sector.
Many of these shopkeepers sometime claim that the labourers were being paid overtime for their work. However, one of the assistants at a shop in GS Road said: “we are asked by the owner to say that money is paid for the overtime, but in reality that’s not true.”
Ironically, the Pharmacies in the State capital remain closed on Sundays, which again needs to be corrected. Businesses connected with essential and life saving services needs to be up and running all seven days of the week.
It’s not just in Shillong, several showrooms of multi-national brands remain open all through the week in Guwahati too, especially in the busy GS Road- Zoo Road.
There are rights enshrined for workers in the unorganised sector under the Shops and Establishment Act, 1953. Each State frames its own rules under this Act.
There are specific rights underlined under this Act with regards to working hours for these workers. However, very few States enforce this Act in letter and spirit leading to gross violation of the marginalised workers in this unorganised sector.