According to a recent report of National Sample Survey Office, working hours in India is one of the highest in the world. In other words, the workers in Indian private sector, are more exploited than their counterparts in other countries.
After leaving Defence Service I worked in a BPO for a short period. I joined the company as I desperately needed to have a regular income to support my family. When I was in Defence I did not have first hand knowledge of private sector jobs. I had read in papers or listened to the accounts of the glamorous salary in private companies. But after four months my illusion was shattered.
While the employees of the parent company in US worked for five days a week, we were made to work for six days. That was not all. Our working hours were nine to six as per Indian Standard Time. But, frequently we were told to stay beyond working hours for teleconference with the US counterparts whose working hours started when ours ended.
Unless you are a top executive or you work in any of the top multinationals, most of the private companies in India offer low wages and expect you to work like a bonded labour. In spite of plethora of legal provisions to protect the interest of the workers, most of the small private companies don’t follow those guidelines. I have also come across cases where companies make you sign for double the wages that you actually receive.
The prime reason for private companies getting away with their exploitations and the workers hardly complaining in spite of being shabbily treated is the simple economic principle. In India there is huge imbalance between supply and demand of labour. The supply of labour, at all levels – unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled – far exceeds the demand.
In such a situation, I am not sure how far bringing in more legal provisions or strict implementation of existing regulations will safeguard the interest of workers and bring them to international standards.
Skill development along with the creation of a culture of entrepreneurship instead of the present culture of ‘seeking a job at any cost’ seems to be the only way out.
WH Davis penned this poem when the west was in the initial stage of Industrialisation. Thereafter things did not improve. But the west got used to it.
However, the differences in the value of currency of developed countries over developing and underdeveloped countries has enabled the westerners to work for three months in their own country and rest for the rest of the year in a country like India or Thailand.
But if you are an Indian working in India this luxury is not available to you. You may have to work for years to dream of spending a few days in the West.