States agree to minimum wages

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SummaryMost states agreed to it at a conference of labour ministers here.

The Labour Ministry’s proposal to amend the Minimum Wages Act to make the National Floor Level Minimum Wage — fixed at Rs 115 per day now — “statutory” and make it applicable to all employments cleared a major hurdle on Thursday. Most states agreed to it at a conference of labour ministers here.

Currently, 15 states and Union territories have rates of wages in some employments which are less than the national floor level fixed by the Centre. But the Centre could do nothing since the NFLMW is not binding on the state governments and employers. The concurrence of the states was necessary as 1,679 scheduled employments are in the state domain and 45 are in the Central sphere.

“Almost all of them supported the concept of NFLMW and agreed that we should have such a statutory floor level. Many of them even said the present floor level of Rs 115 can be increased,” said a Labour Ministry official.

The ministry had taken the proposal to the Cabinet in 2009, but because of differences it was referred to a committee of secretaries. The CoS cleared the proposal last month, but asked the ministry to discuss it at the labour ministers’ conference and incorporate their suggestions.

The proposal was to amend the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 to bring all employments under it by deleting the provision that bars a state government from fixing minimum wages for a scheduled employment if less than 1,000 employees are engaged in that employment. It envisages making NFLMW statutory, increasing the compensation for payment of amount due to workers from Rs 10 to Rs 100 .

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