A recent investigation by a human rights group has revealed that the Indian solar panels industry, which is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, is rife with labour law violations and gender discrimination. The report claims that workers in the solar panels manufacturing and installation sector face long hours, low wages, unsafe working conditions, and lack of social security. Moreover, women workers are paid 34% less than men for the same work and face harassment and discrimination at the workplace.
The report is based on interviews with over 200 workers, employers, and experts in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, where most of the solar panels production and deployment takes place. The report also cites data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), which show that the gender pay gap in India has widened from 28% in 2018-19 to 35% in 2020-21.
The report urges the government and the industry to take urgent steps to ensure compliance with the Minimum Wages Act, the Equal Remuneration Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and other relevant laws and standards. It also calls for strengthening the collective bargaining power of workers, promoting gender equality and diversity, and providing adequate training and skill development opportunities for the workers.
The report warns that if the labour and gender issues are not addressed, the Indian solar panels industry may lose its competitive edge and its potential to contribute to the country’s green energy transition and sustainable development goals. It also appeals to the consumers and investors to demand greater transparency and accountability from the solar panels companies and to support the workers’ rights and dignity.