The Tamil Nadu government on Monday put on hold a proposed law that would have allowed a 12-hour work day at factories.

The state Assembly had passed the law – the Factories (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2023 – on April 21. The amendment would have allowed workers to take 12-hour shifts for four days per week, and get three days off. Currently, factories can employ workers for eight-hour shifts.

The amendment sparked protests from workers who feared that it would compromise proper working hours and expose them to exploitation. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam demanded the withdrawal of the Bill.

Several of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s allies – such as the Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi – also opposed the amendment, according to The Hindu.

Chief Minister MK Stalin said that the Bill was adopted in order to attract investments and increase employment opportunities for the youth. He said that three ministers – EV Velu, TM Anbarasan and CV Ganesan – had held talks with trade unions on the subject.

The chief minister said that the ministers explained the clauses that were in favour of workers to the trade unions. He added that under the proposed law, only specific industries were to be given permission to introduce flexible working hours, The New Indian Express reported.

However, he said: “Based on the views expressed by the trade unions and political parties, the implementation of The Factories (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill, 2023 is put on hold.”