Selective Amnesia as Many in the US Get Peanuts as Pay - The New Indian Express

Selective Amnesia as Many in the US Get Peanuts as Pay

Published: 20th December 2013 09:01 AM

Last Updated: 20th December 2013 11:08 AM

While the United States invoked the Vienna Convention and violation of minimum wage paid to domestic workers in Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s case, reports by independent research organisations reveal US to be the worst violator of human rights. According to these reports, at least 60 per cent of its work force in unregulated industries such as factories, construction, packaging and housekeeping is underpaid.

Surprisingly, there is no record of employers getting arrested, handcuffed and strip-searched by the US Marshals despite the fact that about 70 per cent of US workers did not even receive additional wages for working overtime.

While arresting Devyani and subjecting her to tortuous “standard operating procedures” reserved for hardened criminals, US attorney Preet Bharara and State Department alleged that Devyani’s maid was paid only $3.31 per hour in violation of US minimum wage guidelines. Interestingly however, US authorities, according to media reports, arrested a fast food restaurant worker earlier in October after she confronted her employer over low wages and demanded more money per hour. The US Justice Department took no cognisance of the case. “We found that many employment and labour laws are regularly and systematically violated, impacting a significant part of the low-wage labour force in the nation’s largest cities. These minimum wage violations were not trivial in magnitude — 60 per cent of workers were underpaid by more than $1 per hour,” a report titled Broken Laws,

Unprotected Workers-Violations of Employment and Labour Laws in America's Cities by New York-based Russell Sage Foundation, said.

The report also said that employers’ retaliation was rampant when underpaid workers tried to complain or form a union. It added that violations were more rampant in apparel and textile manufacturing, repair services and in private households. More than 40 per cent of workers in the three sectors were paid less than the minimum wage, according to the report, which added that 96 per cent housekeepers and maids employed in private households were paid in cash and approximately 63 per cent had non-hourly pay arrangements. It reported 41 per cent minimum wage violation against maids and housekeepers. The report also revealed racial discrimination against Latino workers.

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