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Odisha seeks wage hike for convict prisoners

Skilled prisoners work in different manufacturing units such as weaving, tailoring, making of incense sticks, fly ash brick-making and phenyl-making.

Odisha’s prison authorities have sought a hike in the minimum wages of convict prisoners from ₹40 per day, one of lowest wage rates in the country.

The Directorate of Prisons and Correctional Services contended that since the Labour department had revised minimum wages of all category labourers in the State, convict prisoners’ wages should be increased to ₹100 for skilled, ₹75 for semi-skilled and ₹60 for unskilled prisoners.

Skilled prisoners work in different manufacturing units such as weaving, tailoring, making of incense sticks, fly ash brick-making and phenyl-making.

Semi-skilled prisoners are engaged in cooking, hair-cutting, gardening, dairy and farms, while unskilled prisoners do the sweeping and the guarding of the internal gates.

On an average, the State Prison Directorate spends ₹2 lakh annually towards the payment of wages.

Neighbouring States West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh pay higher than Odisha. Only Andhra Pradesh has lower wage rate for unskilled convict prisoners at ₹30. However, it pays ₹70 and ₹50 for skilled and unskilled prisoners.

In February this year, Jharkhand increased minimum wage for convict prisoners to ₹91 and skilled prisoners in its jails are getting ₹144. Similarly, Chhattisgarh marginally revised the wage to ₹60.

According to officials in Odisha’s Prison Directorate, compared to some of these eastern States, Tamil Nadu pays ₹200 to skilled prisoners and ₹160 to unskilled prisoners. Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Nagaland are other States where minimum wage of convict prisoners is above ₹100.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 2:53:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/odisha-seeks-wage-hike-for-convict-prisoners/article28235889.ece

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