In an attempt to mollify trade unions that have threatened to go on a nation-wide strike on Friday, the Centre on Tuesday announced a hike in minimum wage for unskilled non-farm workers of the central government from Rs 246 a day to Rs 350.
Interacting with reporters in New Delhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the bonus for 2014-15 and 2015-16 will be paid to central government employees based on revised norms. The Bonus Amendment Act will be implemented “strictly”.
He gave an assurance that the government will also take necessary steps to resolve the cases on payment of bonus pending in high courts and the Supreme Court. The likely financial implications of the bonus move translate into Rs 1,920 crore per annum.
“In the last one and a half years, the inter-ministerial committee had meeting with central trade unions. Trade unions placed various demands. Some were labour related and some economic policy issues related. The government has taken some decisions with regard to those on the basis of their recommendations,” added Jaitley.
Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal and Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya were also present. Jaitley said it has been decided to fix the minimum wages at Rs 350 per day for unskilled non-agricultural workers for ‘C’ category areas keeping in view the modalities of fixing minimum wages.
The decision was taken following deliberations at the meeting of the Minimum Wage Advisory Board under the chairmanship of the labour minister for revising the basic minimum wages in the central sphere.
The registration of the contract workers and their staffing agencies is mandatory and states will be advised to strictly implement the same, the finance minister said. Errant contractors will face appropriate action for any violation, he warned.
The issue of giving social security benefit to the unorganised sector (like Anganwadi, mid-day meal, Asha volunteers) will be examined by a committee which will give its report at the “earliest”. Asked about the strike call, Jaitley said: “I think we have responsible trade unions.”
On the opposition to the government’s plans to merge associate banks of SBI with the parent bank, Jaitley said “the merger is not subject of trade unions”.
“Their service conditions are not being hurt adversely or affected at all. There will be no impact of merger on service conditions of any employee. If government decides that we need strong banks, then unions would have to change their approach to the whole issue,” he asserted.
Dattatreya has held meetings with central trade unions wherein detailed discussions were held with regard to their charter of demands. The issues have been taken up by inter-ministerial committee haded by the finance minister.
As many as 10 central trade unions have given a call for a one-day pan-India strike on September 2, 2016, to protest against the government’s labour reforms and “not paying heed to their demands”.