Saturday 12 May 2012

Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Labour Meeting Vouch for Steps to Ensure Decent Mimimum Wages for Labourers

The members in the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Labour & Employment have urged the Government to go for ensuring such amount of Minimum Wages payable to labourers especially from the unorganised sector so that they could lead a decent life. In a meeting held in New Delhi yesterday the members also asked the Government to expedite the process of making a National Labour Policy that encompasses all the categories of labourers across the country.

Chairing the meeting Union Labour & Employment Minister Shri Mallikarun Kharge said that in a vast country like India, with abundant supply of Labour, they are vulnerable to exploitation due to illiteracy and lack of bargaining power. The determination of wages of this huge labour force cannot be left completely to the market forces. Under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, both Central and State Governments are appropriate Governments to fix, review, revise and enforce the minimum wages for the protection of workers engaged in the scheduled employments under their respective jurisdictions. This legislation seeks to prevent exploitation of labour by assuring payment of reasonable wages to the workers who are at the bottom of the employment pyramid. 

When the Minimum Wages Act was enacted in 1948, only 13 employments were originally included in the schedule, but the Act enabled the appropriate Governments to add more and more employments to the list. Over the years, a number of new employments have been added by the appropriate Governments to the original schedule, depending on their respective requirements. This number has now gone up to 45 in Central sphere and 1679 in State sphere. All the provisions of the Act equally apply to both male and female workers. 

Shri Kharge said since the minimum wages vary between States and regions, the concept of National Floor Level Minimum Wage (NFLMW) was recommended by the National Commission on Rural Labour (NCRL) in 1991. Accordingly, the Government introduced NFLMW in 1996 on a non-statutory basis and the States have been requested to adopt this. The NFLMW has been revised from time to time on the basis of changes in the Consumer Price Index. With effect from 01.04.2011, the NFLMW has been fixed at Rs.115/- per day. 

He said there is a proposal to amend the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, inter alia, to make NFLMW statutory, to cover all employments under the Act and to make the penal provisions more stringent etc. 

During the meeting “Minimum Wages in Central/State sphere” were discussed. Prior to it a presentation on Minimum wages was made which included the objective, provisions for fixation/ revision of minimum wages, Norms for deciding minimum wages, procedure for fixation/revision of minimum wages/Working hours and overtime rates, categorization of workers, classification of cities/towns/areas, Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA), Enforcement of the Minimum Wages Act, Penal Provisions, National Floor Level Minimum Wage NFLMW), brief observations on the annexures, National Wage Policy, Amendment Proposals to the Act and present Status of the Amendment proposals. The meeting also confirmed the minutes of the last meeting held on 21.12.2011 along with the Action Taken Report of the Ministry A proposal to register the workers while going out of their state for job was also made in the meeting by the members. 

The meeting was attended by S/Shri Gurudas Das Gupta (CPI- West Bengal), Anandrao Vithba Adsul (Shiv Sena -Maharashtra), R.K. Singh Patel (SP-UP), Ram Sunder DasJDU-Bihar), N.Peethambara Kurup (INC-Kerala), Badri Ram Jakhar (INC-Rajasthan) and Mangala Kisan (BJD-Orissa). Dr. M.Saarngi Secretary in the Ministry of Labour & Employment moderated the meeting. 

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