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Are India’s Workplaces Truly Equal And Safe Spaces For Employees?


“Love your job but don’t love your company, because you may not know when your company stops loving you.”

These lines of late President and Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam have a deep meaning and all employees should understand the message of these lines.

In India, unemployment is a very major issue and getting a good job with a nice package is considered a great achievement. It has become a competitive market and that has made the employees nothing less than a slave; one without any social or personal life, forget about any recreational activity.

On weekends as a stress buster, most of these employees rush to a pub, bar, mall or a movie to convince themselves and their families that they are also living a normal life with a good lifestyle. But, not all the employees do this because many of them have to spend their weekends in offices for many reasons- from overtime money to year-end appraisal, bonus or just to become a bootlicker of their bosses.

It is very rare that these employees work just for the sake of doing work. Tell them once that their extra hours will not be counted and see how they will rush to their homes! To dedicate their time to work, many employees leave their families at their native places, if they have an option, and then make a human-robot of themselves.

They know only two things – earning money by giving all the time to the office without any break and bootlicking. In such a situation, if someone finishes their work on time and wants to leave for home on time, then they are considered a non-dedicated under-performing employee, it does not matter how good or bad they are at their work. The worst thing? That they want to live a normal life!

Employees receive a training session at an IT company.

These normal human beings are disliked and that’s perhaps why they want to go home on time and have a normal life, spend time with their families, catch up on the news. The employees who give their day and night to office, and also their weekends, often say that they do this for the office. They say that they are not like others who just show eagerness to reach home, but the truth is that it may not be just the workplace that has made them so, but their habit of making extra money.

I believe it has made them into slaves who don’t care for their kids or family and just want extra money. The ones who don’t live with their families end up spending all their time at the office. It is not about the requirement of money but their greed for extra money, maybe.

It is a fact that there is no end to human needs and there should be a work-life balance. But who is the culprit for such a situation?

Employees are not the culprits; in fact, they are the real victims who are not understanding what these companies are taking from them just by giving them some extra monetary benefit. The Indian, as well as international MNCs, are simply exploiting the situation.

The culture of night shift work has flourished but most of the companies do not follow apex court guidelines, one can easily see cabs without GPS, no guards for females, even private cars are used by companies. Basic rights are violated, employees are forced to sign the agreement that they will work for more than 48 hours a week, the rise in unemployment forces the employees to work under such exploitative conditions.

The government has made the law for maternity benefits but the fact is the many organisations and schools sack their female workers when they become aware of their pregnancy. Minimum wages, leaves and basic rights are infringed, and employees work for years as contractual employees. All these things are out in the open but the government doesn’t take these situations seriously as this doesn’t affect their vote bank.

Representational image.

It is high time for the government to look into such matters seriously and punish companies for flouting all the rules. The government talks about the number of foreign companies opening their offices in India but nobody talks about the working conditions of these employees. Many companies, especially private schools, don’t deduct PF of their employees. Many times, employees are sacked when they are about to complete five years in a company to avoid giving a gratuity.

A creche for working mothers in companies is still on paper only and its high time that the government starts checking companies for the same. Everyone says that daycare is a big relief for working parents, but has anyone checked the working hours and salary of its teachers?

Big brands of daycare schools give ₹8000-19000 to highly skilled and qualified teachers. These schools post the salary and working hours on their website and no PF or health benefit is provided. If one checks the website of a brand like Ipsaa daycare, Klay or Footprints, they can see the minimal salary provided by expensive daycares to their teachers. They don’t even pay salaries equal to the fee of a single student but they make their teachers work for over 12 hours daily. These teachers don’t get leaves which other school teachers get, since it is a daycare.

The truth is that these skilled teachers are simply glorified nannies and they are forced to work under such conditions because of lack of job opportunities. Similarly, if we check the website of expensive schools then we will see that they only pay a salary of ₹15000 to their teachers. Under such pathetic conditions, foreign companies are again exploiting us by treating the youth as slaves and using some extra money (overtime money) as opium to refrain the employees from talking about labour laws.

Employees are kept under this constant greed of overtime money, making them dependent on it, forgetting even their basic human rights. Overtime money is nothing but a slow poison or opium which has affected an educated human mind to think freely.

All such factors are not only affecting the employees in the workplace. As a result, they are damaging their relations resulting in less social contact, divorce, bad health condition and no time for family requirements. Employees are affected by diseases like high blood pressure, sugar, and obesity. So, the need of the hour is to make sure checks and measures are in place to maintain basic working conditions for the working class. The exploitation of the youth of India needs to stop.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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