Government hikes minimum wage; Unions stick to Sept 2 strike call
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads an informal group of ministers constituted to address labour issues, said the minimum wages for unskilled non-agricultural workers will be hiked to Rs 350 per day from the current Rs 246.
Seeking to dissuade labour unions from a nationwide strike on September 2, the government today announced 42 percent minimum wage hike and a two-year bonus, but the trade bodies rejected these measures as “completely inadequate” and stuck to their call.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads an informal group of ministers constituted to address labour issues, said the minimum wages for unskilled non-agricultural workers will be hiked to Rs 350 per day from the current Rs 246. Also, the government employees will be paid a wage bonus as per revised norms, for 2014-15 and 2015-16, a move that will entail a payout of Rs 1,920 crore. Other ‘labour-friendly’ moves included amendment in the Payment of Bonus Act and government support the cause of unions in high courts and the Supreme Court.
The government also said that it will issue advisories to states for ensuring completion of trade union registration within 45 days. The trade unions, who are demanding minimum monthly wage of Rs 18,000 per month or Rs 692 a day and base pension of Rs 3,000 a month, were not impressed by the government’s move and said they would go ahead with the day-long general strike on Friday.
The strike call is being supported by almost all major labour unions except RSS-affiliated BMS, and may impact banking and insurance services, power supplies and coal mining. “The government’s minimum wage announcement is completely inadequate. The strike stands and we demand they should enact a law to fix minimum (universal) wage,” All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said. “Finance Minister’s statement clearly shows that the government has not considered any of the demands in our 12- point charter. The unions have no other alternative but to fight for their rights,” Indian National Trade Union Congress Vice-President Ashok Singh said.
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