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Canteen – Essay

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Canteen is a place where food is provided but there is little or no waiting staff table service. Canteen is called mess or refectory. Canteen has food serving counters or stalls. Customers take the food they require as they walk along, placing it on a tray. Free second servings are often allowed under this system. Customers are either charged a flat rate for admission or pay at the check-out for each item. Some self-service cafeterias charge by the weight of items on a patron’s plate. As canteens require few employees, they are often found within a larger institution, catering to the clientele of that institution. For example, schools, colleges and their residence halls, department stores, hospitals, museums, military bases, prisons, etc. canteens are often contracted to outside. Canteens in organizations or factories are very important and have to follow certain rules. Canteen is one of the most important constituents of factories act, 1948. Factories act, 1948 added a section 46 on canteen in the chapter V on welfare. According to this, (1) The State Government may make rules requiring that in any specified factory wherein more than 250 workers are ordinarily employed, a canteen or canteens shall be provided and maintained by the occupier for the use of the workers.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for – (a) The date by which such canteen shall be provided;
(b) The standards in respect of construction, accommodation, furniture and other equipment of the canteen; (c) The foodstuffs to be served therein and the charges which may be made therefor; (d) The constitution of a managing committee for the canteen and representation of the workers in the management of the canteen; 1(dd) the items of expenditure in the running of the canteen which are not to be taken into account in fixing the cost of foodstuffs and which shall be borne by the employer; (e) The delegation to the Chief Inspector, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, of the power to make rules under clause (c).

Case laws:
(i) Factories Act does not provide for the mode in which the specified establishment must set up a canteen. It is left to the discretion of the
concerned establishment to discharge its obligation of setting up a canteen either by way of direct equipment or by employment of contractor, it cannot be postulated that in the latter event, the persons working in the canteen would be the employees of the establishment; Ferro Alloys Corporation Ltd. v. Government of Andhra Pradesh Labour Employment and Technical Education (Labour II) Deptt, 2003 (96) FLR 160.

(ii) Section 46 of the Act empowers the State Government to make rules requiring any specific factory wherein more than 250 workers are ordinarily employed to provide and maintain a canteen by occupier for the use of the workers; Indian Petrochemicals Corp. Ltd. v. Shramik Seva, AIR 1999 SC 2577.

As per section 79 on canteens in the Maharashtra Factory Rules, 1963, (1) The occupier of every factory wherein more than 250 workers are ordinarily employed and which is specified by the State Government by a notification in this behalf shall provide, in or near the factory, an adequate canteen according to the standards prescribed in the Rules. The canteen shall be available for the use of the workers, within six months from the date of such notification: Provided that the State Government may for sufficient reasons, from time to time by an order in writing, extend the said period in respect of any specified factory. (2) The manager of a factory shall submit for the approval of the Chief Inspector plans and site plan, in duplicate, of the building to be constructed or adapted for use as a canteen. (3) The canteen building shall be situated not less than 15 metres from the latrine, urinal, boiler house, coal stacks, ash dumps and any other source of dust, smoke or obnoxious fumes:

Provided that the Chief Inspector may in any particular factory relax the provisions of this sub-rule to such extent as may be reasonable in the circumstances and may require measures to be adopted to secure the essential purpose of this sub-rule. (4) The canteen building shall be constructed in accordance with the plans approved by the Chief Inspector and shall accommodate at least a dining hall, kitchen, store room, pantry and washing places separately for workers and for utensils. (5) In a canteen, the floor and inside walls up to a height of 120 centimetres from the floor shall be made of smooth and impervious material; the remaining portion of the inside walls shall be made smooth by cement plaster or in any other manner approved by the Chief Inspector. (6) The doors and windows of canteen building shall be of fly- proof construction and shall allow adequate ventilation. (7) The canteen shall be sufficiently lighted at all times when any person has access to it.

(8) (a) In every canteen-
(i) all inside walls or rooms and all ceilings and passages and staircases shall be lime-washed or color-washed at least once in each year or painted once in three years dating from the period when last lime-washed or painted, as the case may be; (ii) all wood work shall be varnished or painted once in three years dating from the period when last varnished or painted; (iii) all internal structural iron or steel work be varnished or painted once in three years dating from the period when last varnished or painted. Provided that inside walls of the kitchen shall be lime-washed once every four months.

(b) Records’ of dates on which lime-washing, color-washing, varnishing or painting is carried out shall be maintained in the prescribed Register in Form 8. (8) Precincts of the canteen shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition. Waste water shall be carried away in suitable covered drains and shall not be allowed to accumulate so as to cause a nuisance. Suitable arrangements shall be made for the collection and disposal of garbage.

Factory canteens have to be clean and hygienic as they are important for worker’s health and demonstrates that the management cares for workers. Providing a clean canteen and good food ensures better productivity amongst workers. A canteen in poor condition can adversely affect the quality of worker’s meals and indirectly affect factory’s productivity and worker’s motivation. All members of factory must be involved in improving and maintaining the condition of the factory canteen. While it is management’s responsibility to set up the appropriate space and facilities for the canteen, workers have to participate in keeping it in good condition. A good canteen ensures healthy meals for workers, increased morale, increased productivity and increased employee co-operation.

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