The announcement by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha approving hike in minimum wages of the daily wagers is a good beginning towards a major reform.
This order includes the casual labourers, in all government departments and the hike is from existing Rs 225 per day to Rs 300 per day, and it is an interim measure till the minimum wage rates are revised by the Labour and Employment Department. It is good to know that the Labour and Employment Department is to complete the process within 3 months.
The idea of minimum wages should become the guiding force in determining all the labour related laws and rules.
It is not just about economy, and helping poor. It is basically rooted in the idea of human dignity.
A system where humans are not respected, and this respect doesn’t reflect in how they are treated, is bound to breed exploitation. It is this exploitation that is happening for long now.
At a time when inflation has touched sky, the wages given to this class of people is not just inadequate, it is demeaning. The tragedy of our system is that we spare resources in abundance for those who have already good wages.
A single stroke of salary hike for the employees in the top layer is far more, in absolute terms, than the wages earned by labour class monthly.
This is sheer exploitation. In this situation it is an obligation on the heads of the governments to take the case of daily wagers and labours very seriously.
The idea of setting a standard for minimum wages is just the beginning of it. The concerned department, while fixing these wages should take into account all the elements of a decent life.
This class of people should have good food to eat, good clothes to wear, a decent house to live in, enough to give education to their children, and also a cushion for eventualities.
As humans they have the same needs, and wishes as the people taking fat salaries at the end of a month.
One last thing; when we set minimum wages we should also think of a comprehensive social security system that takes care of this class of people.