June 13, 2021

New Committee Set-up to Delay Action on Minimum Wages: CITU

THE Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) called out the government for dilly-dallying the process of fixation of minimum wages by constituting a new expert committee on wages, instead of acting upon the recommendations made by the old expert committee in 2019.

The CITU, in a statement issued on June 4, has said that the purpose of constituting the new committee is to keep the much needed minimum wage revision hanging for the sake of  ‘ease of doing business’ rankings; and to provide berths to chosen persons in government committees for a long period of three years.

The ministry of labour and employment, on June 3, constituted an expert group to provide technical inputs and recommendations on fixation of minimum wages and national floor minimum wages. The CITU said that the constitution of another expert committee, that too for a tenure of three years, is only an exercise to create a favourable impression among the workers. It said that the new committee reports would only add further confusion to the already anxious government on this issue.

“Your Ministry had also constituted one such expert committee on the same issue in January 2018 which had submitted its voluminous report along with recommendations in January 2019. The government did not act upon the report. And again another expert committee has been constituted with a tenure of three years. Does it mean that fixation/revision of minimum/floor wages etc will have to wait for three years for its finalisation?” Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU, questioned Santosh Kumar Gangwar, minister for labour and employment.

In a letter to the minister, Tapan Sen questioned the purpose of setting up the new committee to arrive at wage rates when the Indian Labour Conference (ILC), the highest tripartite body in the country, has already unanimously recommended the same “scientific criteria and methodology”  for fixation of minimum wages as per the formula recommended by the 15th ILC together with the Supreme Court order on Raptakkos Brett case in which the same BJP government has also been an agreed party. Draft Rules on Code on Wages 2019 authored by your Ministry and notified on 7th July 2020 has to incorporate that scientific formula to be the basis for minimum wage fixation. The job that remains to be done is its execution through exercise in the tripartite Minimum Wage Advisory Board and precisely that is the mandate of the Code on Wages 2019,” he pointed out.

He said that all inputs and statistics are available in public domain for the same and expertise can be hired for the arithmetical exercise. He said that the three-year-tenure-expert committee with government appointees is not at all required for that purpose and doing so tantamounts to violation of the mandate given by government’s code on wages and the rules thereon.

“You will appreciate, the entire expert committee exercise de novo, at this juncture is absolutely arbitrary and superfluous and it will pave the way for delaying inordinately the upward revision of minimum wages, which is the urgent need of the hour not merely for the livelihood of the workers but also for reviving the crippling economy as a whole. This will also pave the way for sidelining/avoiding the practice of tripartism. Present exercise will benefit none except the committee members and the employers,” Tapan Sen wrote in his letter to the minister and urged him to rescind the very exercise of expert committee formation in the interests of fairness and propriety.