AAP to ‘Significantly’ Raise Minimum Wages in Delhi

The government will announce the new wage structure on Independence Day, based on recommendations of a committee comprising trade unions, employers and industry representatives.

Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai. Credit: PTI

Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai. Credit: PTI

As an Independence Day gift to the working class in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has decided to significantly raise their minimum wages. Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai said on Friday that the committee constituted to determine the revised wage structure held its fifth and final meeting the day before, and would now be submitting its report to the government on the basis of which the wages will be revised.

“The entire country is going to celebrate the 70th Independence Day on August 15 but the condition of the labourers continues to remain pathetic 70 years after the country gained freedom. In Delhi too, which is the country’s capital, the minimum wage is just about Rs 9,000 odd,” he said, assuring that the sector would see a quantum jump in wages with the revision.

AAP had promised that it would work towards improving the lives of the labourers during the assembly polls in 2015. “To fulfil that promise, this Independence Day the minimum wage of all the labourers would be increased significantly, this will be the gift of the Delhi government for them. To this end the procedures and the yardsticks were being worked upon for the past several months,” Rai said.

Explaining the mechanism involved in arriving at the revised wages, he said, “first of all, to increase the minimum wage, a three-party committee was formed. As per the Minimum Wages Act, this advisory committee evaluated all the proposals and will now make a recommendation to the Delhi government”.

“On April 12, 2016 we had constituted this committee in which representatives of the employees, employers and industry and labour department were represented. From the Delhi government, the labour commissioner is heading that committee while the additional commissioner is its member secretary and director (economics and statistics) its ex-officio member. Besides, five members of the trade unions were also represented in the panel,” Rai added.

The unions on the panel include Shramik Vikas Sangathan, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, NMPS and Delhi Shramik Sangathan. There were also five members representing employers and the industry – CII, FICCI, DMRC, PWD and Assocham.

Two sub-committees were also formed under the panel to identify the norms of fixing rates for the food items in Delhi. Members of this sub committee visited Kendriya Bhandar, Mother Dairy and open market outlets. Rai explained the raise in minimum wage will be done on the basis of the criteria laid down by the International Labour Organization.

For the purpose of fixing wages, Rai said, a family is considered a unit of a man, woman and two children. Earlier the yardstick was ‘roti, kapda aur makan’ (food, clothing and shelter), but later the courts directed that education also be considered for the purpose of determining minimum wages.

The starting point, according to Rai, is the minimum food calorific requirement per person, which has been set by the National Institution of Nutrition in Hyderabad at 2731 calories. The amount of money required for the purchase of food that would yield 2731 calories provides a point of reference to determine the minimum wage.

Once the amount of money required for food is known, 10% of that is added for housing, 20% for electricity and fuel, and 25% for education. Apart from this, a family is also assumed to use 72 yard of cloth per year. All these factors help determine the minimum wage figure.

The committee arrived at a decision on August 4 after evaluating all these factors, Rai said. It will now submit a report to the Delhi government, which will then announce the new minimum wage on Independence Day.

While wages are normally revised twice a year, in April and October when the dearness allowance is added, the entire structure will be reworked this time. At the moment, the minimum wages in Delhi for unskilled labour is Rs 9568 per month, Rs 10,582 per month for semi skilled labour and Rs 11,622 per month for skilled labour.