The government has no intention to delay fixing minimum wages and national floor wages, the labour ministry said on Saturday. The clarification comes amid reports that forming an expert group on the issue with a three-year term is an attempt to delay fixing minimum wages and national floor wages.
Earlier this month, the Centre constituted an expert group under the chairmanship of economist Ajit Mishra to provide technical inputs and recommendations on fixing these wages. The tenure of the group is three years.
The provision of minimum wages provided in the labour code on wages was passed in 2019. Currently, the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act apply to workers in scheduled employments, including mining, plantations and services. The wage code is meant to ensure the “right to sustenance” for every worker and extends the legislative protection of minimum wage to 100% of the country’s 50-crore workforce from the current 40%.
In an official statement issued Saturday, the labour ministry said, “The tenure of the expert group is three years. It has come to notice that certain sections of the press and some stakeholders have opined this as an attempt to delay the fixation of minimum wages and national floor wages by the government. It is clarified that the government does not have any such intention and the expert group will submit its recommendations to the government as early as possible,” the statement added, but did not mention any timeline for implementation of the provision.
The government, however, stated that the tenure of the panel has been kept as three years so that even after the fixation of minimum wages and national floor wages, the government may seek technical inputs or advice from the expert group on subjects related to minimum wages and national floor wages, as and when required.“First meeting of this group was held on June 14 and the second meeting is scheduled for June 29,” it said.
After the labour ministry announced the constitution of the panel, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the country’s largest trade union, flayed the move. “Workers across the country are feeling cheated today as the government has not been able to bring about a change in minimum wages in the last seven years and another three years for completion of this report would mean an end of the incumbent government’s current tenure as well,” wrote BMS general secretary Binoy Kumar Sinha to Union labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on June 5. Other trade unions also criticised the government for delaying the implementation of the provision.