In volte face, Centre to accept minimum wages for NREGA
The Centre is set to accept ‘minimum wages’ under the job guarantee scheme, apprehensive that taking such action later, on the possible directives of the Supreme Court, would show it as reluctant to give higher wages to the poor.
Rural development ministry will soon seek Cabinet approval to make wages of MGNREGA at par with Minimum Wages Act prevailing in states.
It marks a government volte face after it moved the apex court against a Karnataka High Court ruling that wages under the job scheme could not be less than minimum wage rate fixed under MW Act.
At the core of the dispute is a provision in MGNREG Act (clause 6-1) which empowers the Centre to notify wages, irrespective of the MW Act.
The provision, in essence, states that the job scheme was not bound by the “floor remuneration” to be paid to workers, a fact disputed by social activists.
While a harried government feared the Karnataka HC order would increase the cost of the central scheme manifold, many including RD minister Jairam Ramesh felt that challenging the HC order would be seen as denying higher wages to the poor. It would be politically counter productive.
The initial reaction, not encouraging, in the apex court seems to have nudged the Centre to be proactive in bringing the MGNREGA in sync with MW Act. It is feared that a negative verdict could leave the Centre stranded, having to bear higher costs of the job scheme without the credit of giving increased wages.
However, the Centre may be playing a little game to guard against arbitrary hikes in minimum wages by states to extract more money from Delhi.
It has proposed to amend clause 6-1 to read that while Centre would notify the wages, it would ensure that “the first time” these wages are not less than MW Act.
At the same time, it wants to tweak the clause about funding pattern. Instead of committing the Centre to “meet the cost of amount required for payment of wages”, the RD ministry wants it to read that Centre would meet the cost of wages as determined by the Centre (under 6-1)
It means that after ensuring that wages fixed are not less than MW Act, the Centre would be at liberty to not hike the wages even if states revised their minimum wages.
It would deter the states from assuming that hike in MW Act would automatically fetch them total reimbursement of wage outgo under MGNREGA.
After the announcement in the Lok Sabha in the matter of revival of Burn Standard and Braithwaite Co. Ltd. Mamata Banerjee had started a dialogue with the concerned ministries for a waiver of accumulated liabilities of two PSUs.
“We welcome the Railway Minister’s proposal for the revival of Burn Standard and Braithwaite Co. Ltd. But the question is how the companies will be revived? Will they be departmentalised with the Railway Board?” asked the CITU, West Bengal unit secretary.
The trade union wing of AITMC, Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress (INTTUC) was however, confident of her plans for the revival of these two units. The president of the union, Sobhandeb Chatterjee said: “The decision is a milestone for Bengal’s revival. The Left parties have been using this issue for political mileage only. Now, Mamata Banerjee has shown that she is willing to back the downtrodden and the workers.”
मानवता के लिये
मानवता के लिए उषा की किरण जगाने वाले हम शोषित, पीडित, दलित जनों का भाग्य बनाने वाले हम हम अपने श्रम सीकर से ऊसर में स्वर्ण उगा देंगे कंकड पत्थर समतल कर कांटों में फूल खिला देंगे सतत परिश्रम से अपने हैं वैभव लाने वाले हम शोषित, पीडित, दलित जनों का भाग्य बनाने वाले हम अन्य किसी के मुंह की रोटी हरना अपना काम नहीं पर अपने अधिकार गंवा कर, कर सकते आराम नहीं अपने हित औरों के हित का मेल मिलाने वाले हम शोषित, पीडित, दलित जनों का भाग्य बनाने वाले हम
रोटी, कपडा, मकान, शिक्षा आवश्यकता जीवन की व्यक्ति और परिवार सुखी हो तभी मुक्ति होती सच्ची हँसते – हँसते राष्ट्र कार्य में शक्ति लगाने वाले हम शोषित, पीडित, दलित जनों का भाग्य बनाने वाले हम
भारत माता का सुख गौरव प्राणों से भी प्यारा है युग – युग से मानव हित करना शाश्वत धर्म हमारा है जीवन शक्ति उसी माता को भेंट चढाने वाले हम शोषित, पीडित, दलित जनों का भाग्य बनाने वाले हम
CRIMINAL LIABILITY ON THE EMPLOYERS
Under the Tea Act 1953, the Central Government has vast regulatory powers particularly in relation to employers who have defaulted in the payment of wages and PF dues. Under Section 16D of the Act the Central Government and the Tea Board can initiate stringent measures against the tea undertakings or units if they are managed in a manner highly detrimental to the tea industry or to public interest. Central Government should immediately takeover the closed gardens under Section 16E of the Tea Act 1953.
The employers who have misappropriated the dues should be prosecuted under Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code i.e. criminal breach of trust.
The managements violated their statutory obligations by misappropriating huge amounts from the workers' earned wages, salaries, bonus, rations, earned leave, provident funds, gratuity, and life insurance. They also evaded their liabilities to the government exchequer.
Many operational gardens are also following this trend of not paying the wages/salaries in time, not disbursing cereals in due time, not depositing the PF amount, not paying gratuity, wages and are pushing the workers and their dependants into starvation and death. On the other hand the owners still have assets both in the closed garden and in other businesses that can be used to recover these dues. The State Government should therefore be asked to legal steps necessary to recover these dues. Receiver should be appointed for reluctant owners, and their assets should be sold off to pay moneys due to the workers as wages, provident fund etc. Under the law, it is possible for the establishment’s property and the other property of the owner to be attached and criminal cases to be filed against employers.
INTTUC can works together across the country to build stronger and better relationships between the Party and the movement of the unions.
We have a strong regional structure that can brings organized and un-organised sectors workers in main fold of the Trade unions movement.
INTTUC may talk about the issues that are important to union members of their region. INTTUC can works locally to build strong links between trade unions and the Party in local constituencies.
Agni Kanya Of Bengal
PF FOR MAID SERVANTS
“The maidservants live a miserable life everywhere. The Centre has recently introduced Provident Fund scheme for them but they are not aware of it being from the unorganised sector.”
PF FOR MAID SERVANT
The labour department in North Dinajpur has decided to bring all maidservants of the district under the Provident Fund scheme. The labour department has started contacting leaders of the workers’ wings of different political parties in all nine blocks of the district for the purpose. The Assistant Director of Labour Commission, North Dinajpur district Mr Bitan Dey said on the matter: “The maidservants live a miserable life everywhere. The Centre has recently introduced Provident Fund scheme for them but they are not aware of it being from the unorganised sector.” “The workers’ wings of different political parties have started to organise them. We target to bring at least 6,000 maidservants of the district under the PF scheme. Each maidservant will have to deposit Rs 20 per month as per the guideline of the scheme and government would contribute an additional Rs20 for each,” he said.Apart from the maidservants, the labour department has decided to bring the workers of all 42 sections of the unorganized sectors including bidi binders under the PF scheme. “Last year we succeeded in registering 17,000 unorganised workers and this year we have already brought another 10,000 unorganised workers in the scheme and hope to increase the figure by March,” the official, claimed.