Minister for Labour Bachche Gowda sees a “political conspiracy” behind the agitation of unorganised sector workers in the State and said the Government is ready for talks with workers to solve their demands.

Addressing presspersons here on Thursday, Mr. Gowda said unlike in the past, minimum wages had been increased by 10 per cent in 2009-10 based on the cost price index points. For some workers, the Government had increased daily wages by 18 per cent in 2009-10. Daily wages for tailors had been increased from Rs. 115 to Rs. 127, for oil mill workers from Rs. 118.63 to Rs. 127.90 and for flour mill workers from Rs. 106.64 to Rs. 123.40, Mr Gowda said.

The Government fixed minimum wages for 71 works in the unorganised sector and wages have been revised for 17 works in 2008-09 and seven in 2009-10. The Government fixes the minimum wages once in five years based on the recommendations given by the minimum wages advisory board, which included V.J.K. Nair, general secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), he said.

He termed “unfortunate” the police lathi-charge on the agitating unorganised sector workers in Gulbarga, Raichur and Hassan and invited unorganised sector workers for talks with the Government. Some political forces misguided workers, he said and called upon them to resolve their demands through peaceful means.

The minimum daily wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) had been increased from Rs. 87 to Rs. 100 by the Centre. Daily wages for workers in the silk industry had been fixed at 138, for agricultural labourers at Rs. 119, for plantation workers at Rs. 104, and for beedi workers at Rs. 74.14, he said.

Though the Board gave suggestions on wage revision once in five years, the Department had powers to revise wages once in three years. Compared with other States, Karnataka had fixed higher minimum wages for labourers in the State. Employees of the gram panchayats and anganwadi workers do not come under the labour department’s purview since they employees of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department and Women and Child Welfare Department respectively, the Minister said.

The unorganised sector workers, owing allegiance to the CITU, had been demanding an increase in minimum wages and regularisation of daily wage workers. They had been demanding minimum payment of Rs. 6,000 a month.