Delhi labourers to get 37% hike in minimum wages

New Delhi: Labourers in Delhi will get a 37 per cent hike in minimum wages as Lt. Governor Anil Baijal has approved the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's proposal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday.

The minimum wages would go up from Rs 9,724 to Rs 13,350 a month for unskilled labourers, from Rs 10,764 to Rs 14,698 for semi-skilled labourers and from Rs 11,830 to Rs 16,182 for skilled labourers, said Kejriwal, who was accompanied by Labour Minister Gopal Rai.

Kejriwal on February 25 gave his nod to the file which was then sent to the Lt. Governor's Office.

Thanking the Lt. Governor for giving his approval in a short time, Kejriwal said the notification would be issued on Monday, after which the hike would come into effect.

"I thank LG for giving approval. It is a historic increase in the minimum wages and biggest among all governments since Independence," the AAP leader said.

"The decision will be implemented from March 6 and the labourers will start getting increased salary from April," he said.

It was the second attempt by the AAP government to revise minimum wages after then Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung had turned down the previous decision to revise wages by about 50 per cent on procedural grounds.

"Till now all the governments worked for big corporates like Ambanis and Adanis, but our's is the only government which is working for the poor people. With this decision, we are putting money directly in to the poor's pocket," Kejriwal said.

He also appealed to the central government to clear the Delhi government's Minimum Wages Amendment Bill for effective implementation of the order.

To take action against the violators, the Delhi assembly in 2015 had passed an amendment bill on minimum wages, which was pending with the central government. 

In the amendment bill, the penalty for violating the law was increased from the existing Rs 500 to Rs 50,000 and minimum imprisonment of six months was increased to three years.

"This amendment bill is very important for an effective implementation of the minimum wages order. I request the central government to clear that bill as soon as possible," Kejriwal said.

Delhi Labour Minister Rai said that the last revision of minimum wages was carried out in 1994 and since then only Dearness Allowance (D.A.) had been notified/ increased from time to time, i.e. twice a year.

Quoting the 2011 census data, Rai said around 54 lakh working people lived in Delhi in 2011 and this number should be around 60 lakh at present, out of which around 50 lakh people work on minimum wages.

"There has been a constant demand for wage revision from trade unions and workers. Approximately 50 lakh families will benefit from this decision," Rai said.

The Labour Minister announced that the government would start a three-month intensive campaign to create awareness among the employers and the workers about the decision. 

Thereafter, the employers shall be submitting online statutory returns under various labour laws, including Minimum Wages Act, 1948, and those returns would be scrutinised and examined by the department. 

"State and district level committees will be formed for monitoring. I myself will review the progress of implementation of the decision," Rai added.

A special tripartite committee -- comprising five members each from the government, labour unions and industry associations -- was formed for the revision of minimum wages. 

The Delhi Cabinet had last week approved the recommendation of the committee to revise minimum wages in the national capital. 

The committee decided the minimum wages after assessing five points, recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Supreme Court, which are housing, clothing, food, education, electricity and fuel, taking into consideration their market prices.

IANS