Central trade unions objects to govt’s decision to set up a new panel on minimum wages

Central trade unions, including the RSS-affiliate Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, have objected to the labour ministry’s decision to set up a new committee on minimum wages saying it is ridiculous as the term of the committee is longer than the current tenure of the government.

Instead, it has suggested the government consider the earlier recommendation of the Satpathy committee and send it for further discussion.

“We hereby strongly object to the neglect of Satpathy committee’s report and constitution of this committee. The government has given the committee three years time to present its report, which sounds ridiculous as the tenure of the incumbent government is set to end, under normal circumstances, before the completion of the tenure of the committee,” Binoy Kumar Sinha, generals secretary of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh said in his letter labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Saturday.

“We urge that the Satpathy committee report is sent to the Central Advisory board for discussion with the tripartite partners and minimum wages and minimum floor wages be notified at the earliest,” BMS has urged the minister.

The seven-member Satpathy panel had in 2019 suggested a national minimum wage of Rs 375 per day and a monthly salary of Rs 9,750. In addition to the monthly pay, the panel had also suggested a housing allowance of Rs 1,430 for city-based workers.

The labour ministry had on Thursday notified a six-member committee to provide technical inputs and recommendations on fixing of minimum wages in the country as well as the national floor minimum wage for a period of three years. To arrive at the wage rates, the expert group, chaired by the Institute of Economic Growth director Ajit Mishra, has been mandated to look into international best practices on the wages and evolve a scientific criteria and methodology for fixation of wages in India.

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BMS has further asked the government to clarify what was the need for a new committee. “The ministry should consider going through the earlier report instead of spending another three years examining something already brought in clear sight by the report,” it said.

According to BMS, the workers across the country are feeling cheated as the government has not

been able to bring about a change in minimum wages in the last seven years and another three years will go for the completion of this report which would be an end of the incumbent government’s current tenure as well.

Even the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has in its letter to the labour minister said the said exercise will not benefit anyone and hence is not needed. “The entire expert committee exercise at this juncture is absolutely arbitrary and superfluous and it will pave the way for delaying inordinately the upward revision of minimum wages, which is the urgent need of the hour not merely for the livelihood of the workers but also for reviving the crippling economy as a whole,” Tapan Sen, secretary general of CITU has said in his letter.

“This will also pave the way for sidelining/avoiding the practice of tripartism. Present exercise will benefit none except the committee members and the employers,” Sen added.

CITU pointed out that the purpose of another committee may be to keep the much needed minimum wage revision hanging for the sake of “ease of doing business”. “The three year tenure-expert committee with government appointees is not at all required for that purpose and doing so tantamount to violation of the mandate given by your own Code on Wages and the Rules thereon,” CITU added.

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The Code on Wages prescribes for a statutory floor-level minimum wage for the country. Once implemented, no state will be allowed to set their minimum wage below the national floor-level minimum wage. The current floor wage is only advisory, resulting in some states keeping minimum wages less than the floor wage, which is pegged at Rs 176 per day.



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