CHENNAI:Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya has announced a hike in floor level minimum wages for all the scheduled workers in the country from Rs 137 to Rs 160 because the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers from across states have different minimum wages and were often a subject of dispute.
After a two-year stagnation when the minimum wage stayed pegged at Rs 137, this new rule is effective from July 1. But it appears that for the minimum wage slab to be really effective across all the various job categories — be it repairing parts or making matches — several reforms are needed. It seems labour reforms are the need of the hour, given the Labour Ministry’s supposed good news.
The beedi industry is a classic example to elaborate this. “It comes under the home-based industry where both women and children work along with the man of the family. Together they are forced to meet the minimum-wage requirement, and it could require rolling an arbitrary number of beedis in a day,” says retired Jutice K Chandru.
The minimum wage implementation, which he opines is already sub-par in the state, could worsen in the light of a loophole in the Child Labour Act amendment which allows children to be a part of these home-based industries like making matches and beedi.
Though a Rs 23 a day increase in income is a welcome change for labourers from states which are in the shallow end of the pool, they do not enjoy the benefits of set work-hours, provident fund and medical benefits that the organised sector does. And more than 86 per cent of the nation’s workforce comes under ‘unorganised’ category.
Overall development is the practical long-term solution, says an industry insider.