New Delhi: Despite the hype that has been created around Delhi government’s decision to increase minimum wages by 34 percent, trade bodies reveal that the Department of Labour lacks adequate manpower to implement the same.
Anurag Saxena, leader of the Centre of Trade Union leader as well as member of Delhi government’s committee for all the scheduled employments under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948, reveals that there are only 11 labour inspectors in Delhi government’s labour department.
The revelation has come at a time when the department is continuing a programme to create awareness about the new minimum wages. The awareness programme is to continue till July 13.
"How can one even expect merely 11 labour inspectors to implement the newly approved minimum wages in a city with more than 20 lakh labourers,” asks Saxena.
Ashok Agarwal, an advocate in the Delhi High Court, says, "The Delhi government could not even implement the earlier rates of minimum wages due to lack of manpower. How can they do it now?”
The labour department, he adds, is overburdened with work, as there are 24 labour laws in the capital state and the department has only 170 employees to implement them.
“The entire department is functioning on 24 percent of the staff strength (that was) prevalent in the 1970s,” he added.
Lallan Singh, a deputy labour commissioner admits that his office has nearly 40 percent shortage of manpower.
Recently, Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai announced that teams would be formed under deputy labour commissioners to implement the new minimum wages.
Addressing workers on Labour Day at a function, according to NDTV, Rai had said that “the department has been directed to take up all complaints regarding non-payment of new minimum wages on priority and their disposal should be in a time-bound manner".
However, Agarwal questions the efficacy of the teams in implementing the new minimum wages since only labour inspectors are authorised to inspect and draw prosecutions on erring concerns.
The Minimum Wages Act 1948 lays out clear provision in Section 19 that a person notified as inspector can only implement this act.
The Aam Admi Party government in Delhi had increased the daily wages by 34 percent by a cabinet decision to be implemented from 1 April 2017.
As per this new notification, the minimum wages of unskilled labourers were increased from Rs 9, 724 to Rs 13, 350 per month. For semi-skilled workers, it has been increased from monthly Rs 10,764 to Rs 14,698. However, skilled workers after this increase should get Rs 16,182 monthly instead of Rs 11,830, which was the prevalent rate of minimum wages.
The Aam Aadmi Party had made increase of minimum wages an integral part of its political narrative right in its election manifesto during the last Delhi Assembly election.
“But merely increasing minimum wages is not going to help, as it is not possible for 11 inspectors to inspect thousands of shops, factories and other establishments,” says Agarwal.
Saxena says that though the decision to increase the minimum wages was the need of the hour, and thanks the government for fulfilling his unions long standing demand, he states that the increase of minimum wages would make sense only when the labour department recruits enough officials to implement them.
Firstpost visited the labour commissioner’s office to learn its view about the lack of labour inspectors to implement the minimum wages, but none of the officials approached responded the queries.
Published Date: Jul 03, 2017 19:03 PM | Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 19:03 PM