The labour unions have asked the Maharashtra government to set up an advisory committee to revise their wages, failing which they have threatened to approach the Bombay High Court.
The labour unions have asked the Maharashtra government to set up an advisory committee to revise their wages, failing which they have threatened to approach the Bombay High Court. As per the Minimum Wages Act-1948, the state government has the constitutional obligation to revise the minimum wages every five years. Every government is required to form the advisory committee, comprising representatives of factory owners, labour unions, the minister concerned and the secretary of that department, for the revision of wages. In a letter written recently to Labour Minister Sambhaji Nilangekar-Patil, the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) claimed that 32 industries in the state have not revised the wages of workers since 2010.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC) has not been formed because of the constant pressure from industry owners, as they are content paying wages based on old rates, CITU’s national vice president D L Karad alleged. “As per provisions of the law, the committee, once formed, has to issue directions to industries asking them to increase the minimum wages following which a notification has to be issued,” he said. “The government does not have to pay anything from its pocket, but it is the industry owners who have to pay the wages,” Karad pointed out.
The 32 industries listed by CITU in its letter to the minister include tobacco, paper, films (cinema), silver jewellery, plastic, printing press, motor transport, cement, salt, ice, electronics, theatre, dairy, chemical fertilisers, wooden furniture and cotton ginning. “Nearly a million people work in these industries,” Karad claimed, adding that if the advisory committee is not formed, they will approach the Bombay High Court.
While Nilangekar-Patil was not available for comments on the issue, an officer in the labour department said the government was processing the file to form the MWAC, which should start working in a month’s time. To a query, the officer said the delay of over three-and-a-half years in setting up the panel was not at the bureaucratic level, but at the political front.