Unions upset over draft wage rules

Floor-level wage mentioned in the rules is unscientific and inhuman, says BMS

November 02, 2019 10:50 pm | Updated November 03, 2019 12:36 am IST - NEW DELHI

Man hand takes a indian currency out of his pocket close up

Man hand takes a indian currency out of his pocket close up

The draft rules that would govern wages, including norms for minimum wages and fixing floor-level wages, were published by the Union Labour and Employment Ministry on Friday, leading some workers’ unions to raise concerns about the potentially low floor wages.

As part of its labour law reform agenda, the Narendra Modi government had in July introduced the Code on Wages, 2019 in Parliament, which passed it in August. The code, which subsumed four laws regarding payment of wages, equal pay, payment of bonus and minimum wages, got the President’s assent on August 8. The rules drafted under the code were published by the Ministry on Friday and opened up for public comments for one month.

For coming up with minimum wages, the criterion would be a standard working class family of one earning worker, a spouse and two children — equivalent to three adult consumption units that would have a net intake of 2,700 calories per unit per day. Under the criterion, the family would be entitled to 66 metres of cloth per year; housing rent expenditure of 10% of the food and clothing expense; fuel, electricity and other miscellaneous items of 20% of the minimum wage; and 25% of the minimum wage for expenditure on children’s education, medical, recreation and contingencies.

While the code will extend minimum wage protection to a large section of workers, including in the unorganised sector, it will not provide for a single minimum wage.

Saji Narayanan C.K., president of the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, told The Hindu that the BMS would submit its “objections” to the Ministry.

“After 70 years also we are talking about floor-level wages, instead of moving on to minimum wage and then a living wage. The floor-level wage mentioned in the rules is un-scientific and inhumane. People may accept it out of desperation but it is ridiculous. We will be sending in our strong objections to this,” he said. Chandan Kumar, coordinator of the Working People’s Charter, said while the rules refer to the Supreme Court’s guidelines on need-based wages, they “change the discourse” to “roti-kapda”.

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