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Don’t want to thrust wage rates on any state: Santosh Gangwar

Santosh-Gangwar
Gangwar said that with the rationalisation of wage rates, litigation and complaints will go down.
As Parliament passes the Code on Wages Bill, 2019, Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar tells Prerna Katiyar what the law means for workers, and assures the minimum rate will not be very low.

How will the floor wage be fixed under the new wage code?
The floor wage would be fixed by the central government on the basis of recommendations by a central advisory board, which would be represented by members of trade unions, employers’ association, state government and independent experts. The details of the procedure would be given in Rules (of the Wage Code).

Won’t the absence of a formula to fix wages in states again lead to multiple rates and defeat the purpose of rationalising existing rates?
The number of minimum wage rates would come down as the states may now determine it on the basis of only two criteria: skill and/ or geographical area. If states want, they can consider only one factor out of the two. I would like to clarify that a formula is not provided in the Code as the details of this would be given in Rules. If given in Code, the formula would be fixed and not dynamic. We do not want to thrust wage rates on any state.

There is a fear that the floor rate may not meet the basic needs of a worker.
This is a wrong notion. The floor rate will not be so low that one will be unable to meet one’s basic needs.

Will the Code ensure there is no gender-based discrimination in wages?
The Code, in no way, compromises equality in wages. Even the existing Equal Remuneration Act ensures equality in wages for men and women. In fact, going one step forward, we have included a clause in Section 3 of the Code that says there can be no discrimination in wage rates for men, women and transgenders. Section 3 also talks about the protection available to women in wages, employment and service. Any violation will be punishable.

The Code will give 50 crore workers the right to demand minimum wages. Even if a fraction of them complain about the denial of rights, will the government be able to redress such a huge number of grievances?
First, we have created a right. Then we will create awareness about this. It is only when a right is created that enforcement can happen. A statutory process is in place now. It is for the state governments to find ways and means to ensure compliance. Systemic improvements have been brought about.

Technological processes are in place to find information online. Currently, there are 2,500 wage rates across different states due to which up to 40% of complaints remain unresolved.

Now, with this rationalisation of wage rates, litigation and complaints will go down. Jurisdiction-free inspection will help improve compliance and lead to effective utilisation of workforce. We are filling up vacancies in chief labour commissioner offices. We are aware of the need to ensure better compliance.



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