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Govt. is yet to fix minimum wage: Minister

The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the Wage Code Bill that seeks to enforce minimum wage among both formal and informal sector.

Speaking at the conclusion of the debate, Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangawar said the reports quoting the minimum wage as ₹160 were wrong and the figure would be decided by government after due consultations with the Tripartite Minimum Wage Advisory Board.

The Bill was passed through vote with 85 members supporting it and only eight majority from the Left parties opposing it. Twenty-two members spoke on the Bill in a nearly empty Rajya Sabha.

“This Bill will herald a new day for the labour force in the country. All workers, whether in formal or informal sector, will now be eligible for minimum wage,” Mr. Gangwar said. He also said that one-third of the members of the wage advisory board would be women. “The Bill also ends all kinds of discrimination. Women and transgenders will get the same pay as men,” he added.

The Opposition severely criticised the Bill. Congress MP Madhusudan Mistry, who opened the debate, rued that so many years after Independence, the governments were still talking of minimum wage and not about fair wage. He asked why the government did not consider the calorie intake as one of the criteria to fix the minimum wage.

CPI(M) MP and trade union leader Elamaram Kareem said the Bill was an exercise in deception. “It is a betrayal engineered on the working people of the country who are actually creating the GDP, while most of the others are enjoying a free lunch on the value created by them,” Mr. Kareem said. He criticised the Bill for having an arbitrary mechanism to fix the minimum wage and also diluting the powers of a labour inspector who has now been renamed as facilitator. “Who will he facilitate? Not the workers certainly. As per the Bill, he has to seek permission from the factory owner to visit, thus giving the owner prior information to erase all evidence,” he said.

Trinamool Congress’s Dola Sen said the Bill sought to replace cash wages with digital payment which would only lead to further harassment of the labour force. Biju Janta Dal’s Sasmit Patra said labour reforms were much needed but the Bill would not bring in any incremental change. “The government is talking about bringing in floor rate rather than increasing the minimum wage. The State government will be inclined to keep their minimum wages close to the floor rate rather than increasing it,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 10:29:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-is-yet-to-fix-minimum-wage-minister/article28801131.ece

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