Workers’ long wait for revised minimum wage

April 05, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 04:44 am IST - Alok Deshpande

Advisory panel not constituted since 2015

Workers of 32 industries have been hit by the delay in revising minimum wages.Arunangsu Roy ChowdhuryArunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Workers of 32 industries have been hit by the delay in revising minimum wages.Arunangsu Roy ChowdhuryArunangsu Roy Chowdhury

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led State government has not been able to form the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC) despite being in power for over three years, resulting in no increase of minimum wages for workers of 32 industries.

Labour unions have given an ultimatum to the State government demanding formation of the MWAC and issuing a notification on increase in minimum wages. They said they would approach the Bombay High Court if this was not done.

According to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the state government has a constitutional obligation to modify the minimum wages every five years. The term of the previous committee, formed in 2010, expired in 2015. In a letter addressed to Labour Minister Sambhaji Nilangekar-Patil the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) has listed 32 industries where the minimum wage has not been revised since 2010. “As per the provisions of the law, MWAC has to issue directions to particular industries asking them to increase minimum wages and a notification is issued subsequently. The government does not have to pay anything from its pocket, but the industry owners will have to pay the wages,” said D.L. Karad, national vice-president and Maharashtra president of CITU.

Mr. Karad said non-formation of the committee is a result of constant pressure from owners, as they are content to pay salaries based on old wages. The MWAC includes representatives of owners, labour unions, elected representatives, minister and secretary of the department.

The 32 industries in which minimum wages have not been revised in the last 8-9 years include, tobacco, paper, film, silver jewellery, plastic, printing press, motor transport, helpers in shops, watch-belt, cement, salt, ice, electronic, theatres, dairy, cycle workshop, rubber balloon, hospital, chemical fertilisers, wooden furniture, cotton ginning etc. “Close to a million people work in these industries,” Mr. Karad said.

While Mr. Nilangekar-Patil was not available for comment, labour department sources said the file to form MWAC was being forwarded and the committee should start working in a month.

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