Garment workers numbering over four lakh in the State have something to cheer about this May Day.
The revision of minimum wages notified recently has provided for an increase in their daily wage by an average of Rs. 60 a day, inclusive of the Dearness Allowance applicable since April.
This is the highest one-time increase in minimum wages since 1979, when “tailoring industry” was brought under the ambit of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
The fixing of minimum wages for different categories of garment workers was based on the recommendations of the tripartite sub-committee of workers, managements and government representatives, set up following a direction of the High Court of Karnataka.
Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU) had approached the High Court in 2010 challenging an earlier notification and seeking revision of wages.
The High Court, in its judgement of March, 2013, said that wages should be revised after tripartite talks.
As per the new notification, a helper in a garment unit cannot now be paid less than Rs. 5,720 per month (which would go up to Rs. 6,450 inclusive of DA).
“This is not a living wage that can take care of even the minimum needs of a person in a city. Yet, we see this as a victory because it is an improvement over earlier revisions and it follows our consistent struggle,” said Jayaram K.R. of GATWU.
J.T. Jinkalappa, Joint Labour Commissioner, who chaired the sub-committee, said that the government is also in the process of fixing minimum wages for workers in cloth dying and printing units.
“These workers are being brought under the minimum wages law for the first time,” he told The Hindu .
‘At least Rs. 10,000’
Mr. Jayaram said that the long-term aim of the labour unions is to push for a minimum wages of Rs, 10,000 to Rs. 12,000, considering the rate of inflation.
S. Prasanna Kumar of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and member of the Karnataka MinimumWage Advisory Board said that the very system of fixing wages only for “scheduled employments” (numbering 79 in Karnataka) is flawed.
Mr. Kumar said that the demand for a minimum of Rs. 10,000 for any unskilled worker is based on a “scientific calculation” taking into account expenses towards 2,800 calories of food for a family of three units, 73 yards of cloth and an additional 25 per cent of this sum for other expenses.
Garment workers have something to cheer about this May Day