The Delhi government approved recommendations of a 15-member committee to increase the minimum wage for labourers by 37%. This will be the first spike in the capital in 22 years and is expected to benefit over 50 lakh families.
The minimum wages for unskilled labour will increase from Rs 9,724 to Rs 13,350. Wages for semi-skilled labour will be up from Rs 10,764 to Rs 14,698 while those for skilled labour will rise from Rs 11,830 to Rs 16,182.
Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai said that his department would monitor the implementation and ensure compliance through a series of awareness campaigns in the coming three months. He added that district-level monitoring committees will be formed to ensure that the employers pay new minimum wages to their employees.
The move was first recommended last year
The government had in August last year hiked minimum wages by 50% but the decision was struck down by then Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. In September 2016, former L-G Najeeb Jung had declared the recommendations “null and void” as the AAP dispensation did not seek his approval to form the panel.
The recent recommendations were duly approved by the L-G on February 25. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said that the difference between last year’s hike and the present numbers was due to “seasonal variations” in the prices of food and other items considered in evaluation of minimum wages in a scientific survey.
The Chief Minister thanked the L-G and praised the recommendations. He added, “It is a historic increase in the minimum wages and highest ever among all governments since Independence.”
He has also appealed to the centre to give assent to the Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendment Bill, 2015 (this provides for three-year imprisonment instead of six months and a Rs 50,000 fine instead of Rs 500 for non-payment of minimum wages).
The minimum wage in India
India has a complex system of minimum wages. Unlike many countries, India does not have a uniform national minimum wage. The wages are instead set by states and vary across regions and professions. The minimum wages are set according to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
Since independence, there have been many calls for India to adopt a single, progressive minimum wage for all citizens. The prevalence of over 1200 minimum wage rates in the country provides platform for the manipulation and exploitation of labourers.
Successive governments have sought to strengthen a floor level minimum wage before implementing a concrete national minimum wage and wage structure.
The entire list can be analysed here.
The Logical Indian appreciates the Delhi government’s progressive move to increase the minimum wage for labourers. TLI hopes that this model is mirrored by other states and sets precedent for the adoption of a national, uniform minimum wage.