Wage Code: Centre trying to introduce labour code on wages in Monsoon Session of Parliament, says Bandaru Dattatreya

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New Delhi | Published: August 4, 2017 6:47:25 AM

Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Thursday said efforts are being made to at least introduce in the current session of Parliament the labour code on wages that proposes a universal national minimum wage for the entire working population across the country.

Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya. (Source: PTI)

Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Thursday said efforts are being made to at least introduce in the current session of Parliament the labour code on wages that proposes a universal national minimum wage for the entire working population across the country. “The Cabinet has already passed a code on wages. Now, we have sent it to the legislative department. We hope to introduce the code on wages in both houses of Parliament in the current session. With this, a universal national minimum wage will come, which means all states will have to fix minimum wages more than this,” Dattatreya told reporters in New Delhi. “Once the code on wages comes, it will apply to the entire working population of the country and there will be no scheduled or non-scheduled employment categories, currently prevalent,” he said, claiming that it will lead to job creation, without elaborating much.

Economists have, however, already denounced the proposal of a universal national minimum wage, saying it will lead to more mechanisation and thus cause a fall in employment. In Brazil, one such proposal had to be tweaked recently as it resulted in disparity in regional income. Currently, workers employed in scheduled employments — sectors where at least 1,000 people are employed — such as agriculture, mining and construction — get a minimum wage. There are 45 such sectors in the central sphere and and 1,709 listed by the state governments.

The current minimum wage for an unskilled agriculture labourer in the central sphere is Rs 300 per day while an unskilled person working in the non-agriculture sector is entitled to get Rs 350 a day. Minimum wages vary from state to state and in most cases, it is much lower than the central sector. To bridge the gap and tide over its helplessness — as labour is in the concurrent list — the Centre introduced the concept of a national floor level minimum wages (NFLMW) in 1991, but that also failed to make any major difference since it is only suggestive in nature and has no statutory backing.

The NFLMW now stands at Rs 176 per day. Asked whether the national universal minimum wage will be higher than the current limit set for the central sector, labour secretary M Sathiyavathy said, “We have to calculate that at that point of time (when it is passed) taking into consideration different aspects. Whether it will be higher, lower or same need not be discussed at this point of time.” Presently, the minimum wages is calculated on the basis of the workers’ daily consumption pattern (on the basis of field studies), taking into consideration the minimum 2,700 Kcal requirement for a family of three.

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