During the presentation of each annual Union Budget, it is taken as granted that the price of tobacco products will record an upward revision with the imposition of increased duty. Such price rise has never negatively impacted the sale of chewing tobacco or cigarettes too.
However, when it comes to fixing the minimum wages for labourers in the tobacco manufacturing industry, the money appears to shrink like tobacco leaves.
As per the latest minimum basic wages fixed by the State Labour and Employment Department for the tobacco manufactory (scented and chewing tobacco), a worker will get paid just `88 for sorting and grading of tobacco per day. The daily wage for labourers engaged in cutting tobacco into bits and for jaggery boiling attender too are just `88.
The same rate has been fixed as per day wages for sorting and sizing plantain bark, packing and labeling scented tobacco and processing of scented tobacco.
In other words, a worker, who toils for 26 days a month, taking off on five Sundays, will get paid a meagre `2,288.
Similarly, as per the notification, workers employed in the chewing tobacco industry will get paid only `78 per day for sorting and grading of tobacco, cutting tobacco into bits and packing chewing tobacco.
Alternatively, the minimum wage for weighing and labeling chewing tobacco will be paid `32.90 per 1,000 packets.
The Labour Department, incidentally, has also treated male and female workers on a par fixing the same wages for them.
“A ‘maistry’ (supervisor) employed in a tobacco industry will have to be paid a minimum of `2,622 per month, while a watchman and office boy will be paid `2,317 as monthly salary,” the notification issued recently said.