Tuesday 29 May 2012

Non-Implementation of Equal Wages for Equal Work

Government has enacted Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 which provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work or work of similar nature without any discrimination. The Occupational Labour Surveys conducted by Labour Bureau have revealed that none of the establishments surveyed violated the provisions of Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. The difference in the earning of male and female workers at the industry and occupational level is mainly due to seniority/length of service, difference in output etc. The difference in wages and earning at Stratum/All India level is due to inter-unit/inter-State difference in wage rates/earnings of men and women workers. Under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 both the Central and State Governments are the appropriate Governments to fix and revise the minimum wages in the scheduled employments under their respective jurisdictions. There is no concept of National average wage under the provisions of Minimum Wages Act, 1948. 

However, there is a concept of National Floor Level Minimum Wage (NFLMW) which was mooted on the basis of the recommendations of the National Commission on Rural Labour (NCRL) in 1991. The NFLMW has no statutory backing, the State Governments are persuaded to fix minimum wages such that in none of the scheduled employments, the minimum wage is less than the NFLMW. The NFLMW was fixed at Rs. 100 per day which was in effect from 1.11.2009 and has been raised to Rs. 115 per day with effect from 1.04.2011. However, as per survey conducted by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 66th round during 2009-10 on average wage/salary earning per day per person for casual labour in public works other than MGNREG Public works is Rs. 93.11 for rural areas, for Casual Labour in MGNREG public works in rural sector it is Rs. 89.03 and for casual labour in other type of works it is Rs. 93.06 for rural and Rs. 121.83 for urban areas. 

To safeguard the interest of workers engaged in unorganized sector, Government has enacted The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Plantation Labour Act, 1951, The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, The Inter State Migrant Establishment Workmen (Regulation of Employment & Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, The Building and Other Construction Workers(Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1996 etc. for the welfare of unorganized Sector. Besides this, the Government has enacted the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 with a view to providing social security to unorganized workers. Further, the National Social Security Fund for unorganized sector workers has set up with initial allocation of Rs. 1,000 crore. This fund will support schemes for weavers, toddy tappers, rickshaw pullers, bidi workers etc. Under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), smart card based cashless health insurance cover of Rs. 30,000/- is provided to BPL families (a unit of five) in unorganized sector. The scheme has become operational from 01.04.2008 and is presently being implemented in 24 States/UTs. As on 30.04.2012, more than 2.94 crore smart cards have been issued. RSBY has now been extended to building and other construction workers, street vendors, beedi workers, domestic workers and MGNREGA beneficiaries who have worked for more than 15 days during the preceding financial year. 

This information was given by the Union Labour & Employment Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge in reply to a written question in the Rajya Sabha. 

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