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New Bill to fix minimum wage gets LS nod

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New Bill to fix minimum wage gets LS nodNew Delhi, July 30 (IANS) A Bill related to workers’ remuneration that subsumes some British-era labour laws into one code and enables the Centre to fix minimum wages for the entire country was unanimously passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, amid objections raised by several opposition members.

Calling the move a “historical decision” while arguing on behalf of the government for passage of the Code on Wages, 2019 Bill, Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said the legislation will ensure that the workers of all organised and unorganised sectors get minimum wages.

He said that there is also a provision that the wages would be availed on time and that it will be decided unanimously by the worker, employer and state governments.

The Bill seeks to merge four labour laws — Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

The minister said the code will apply to all employees and that the central government will make wage-related decisions for employments such as railways, mines, and oil fields, among others.

The Bill seeks to regulate wage and bonus payments in all employments where any industry, trade, business or manufacture is carried out.

“State governments will make decisions for all other employments,” he said.

The wages include salary, allowance, or any other component expressed in monetary terms. This does not include bonus payable to employees or any travelling allowance, among others.

The Code on Wages, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 23, will improve the ease of doing business and attract investment for spurring growth.

It universalises the provisions of minimum wages and this would ensure “Right to Sustenance” for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage from existing about 40 per cent to 100 per cent workforce.

Introduction of statutory Floor Wage to be computed based on minimum living conditions, will extend qualitative living conditions across the country to about 50 crore workers, Gangwar further said.

Opposition parties including Congress, TMC, DMK and NCP raised objections on different issues related to the Bill.

Congress Leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked why there is no mention about apprentices.

Another Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi asked why the government is not working on ‘One Country One Wage’ agenda when there is procedure for “one tax, and talk of one election and even one religion?”

DMK MP D. Ravikumar said it is feared that labour rights won over the years would end up being tarnished by the Code on Wages’ clauses on minimum wages.

He said minimum wages for farm labour should be revised every two years, while other minimum wages need to be revised every four years.

TMC’s Saugata Roy said the condition of workers is very bad. “The workers will have bargaining power only as long as the management makes a profit. There are no unions for the IT and call centre industries… The workers are losing basic rights.”

Mentioning current bonus provision for companies having 20 employees, NCP’s Supriya Sule urged the government to increase the provision for those companies where two to 10 employees work.

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