for building a democratic labour movement in India
Centre puts wage plan for contract workers on hold
SOMESH JHA, The Hindu, NEW DELHI, July 21, 2016; http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/centre-puts-wage-plan-for-contract-workers-on-hold/article8876802.ece?utm_source=email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter
Labour Ministry opts for ‘international consultation’ on fixing minimum wages
The Labour Ministry has put on hold its plan to fix minimum wages for all contract workers at Rs.10,000 per month, following objections from industry.
The ministry will now opt for “international consultation” on fixing minimum wages for contract workers before taking the proposal forward, a senior labour ministry official said.
“We have received strong objections from industries and the proposal will have a serious impact on the small industries that will have to incur huge losses,” a top labour ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The Labour Ministry received more than 40 objections from industrial groups and companies on its draft notification dated March 30 to amend the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Central Rules, 1971 taking the minimum monthly income for contract workers to Rs.10,000. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya had informed the Rajya Sabha in the Budget session that the minimum wages for workers vary between Rs.3,500 and around Rs.10,000 in different States.
However, in their response to the ministry, the trade unions had unanimously supported the move to increase the minimum wages, proposing a higher monthly wage of Rs.15,000-Rs.18,000 per month.
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail opposed the proposal saying the amendment will “impose a heavy financial burden to the manufacturers” as this will be an “additional liability” on them apart from paying provident fund, gratuity and other contributions. The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (Ficci) said the move will “reduce product competitiveness with countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam.”
“The fixation of minimum wages is a state subject and therefore cannot be an identical wage; say of Rs.10,000 for every village or city and industrial town etc. Hence, the proposed amendment will certainly affect the competitiveness of MSMEs,” said Chamber of Small Industry Associations, in its submission to the labour ministry. The Apparel Exporters and Manufacturers Association said the move will “create disharmony” and “result in loss of export of Rs.11,000 crore in a year.”
Both the Centre of Indian Trade Unions and the Indian National Trade Union Congress had requested the ministry to raise the minimum monthly wage to Rs.15,000.
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Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,”
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In the new global politico-economic regime with new international division of labour, informalization of labour, free mobility of capital, alarming expansion of reserve army of labour and creation of global reserve army of labour for capital, and a system of regulating at international level and deregulating at national level, the pre-globalization strategies of organizing and collective bargaining have largely become ineffective and irrelevant. Therefore the labour movements and the social, political movements in general need to develop and implement new strategies of organizing and collective bargaining effective in new global politico-economic regime.
Divide, isolate and rule is the most important aspect of the capitalism to control the labour by not letting the working class emerge as a unified force. Dividing the working class in different sectional interests, and intensifying social conflicts (caste, gender, religion, regionality and nationality conflicts etc) are important strategies of capitalism. On the other hand, by its various institutions and propaganda machinery, the capitalism blurs the link between various sectional problems and their linkage with the capitalist system and therefore the movements appear detached from each other and focused on their sectional issues rather than challenging the capitalist system that produces and reproduces these problems.
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