New Delhi: In a bid to reach out to the working class of the city, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday addressed a ‘Shramik Samvad’ at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium highlighting his government’s proposal to hike minimum wages of labourers.
Delhi Government had on August 15, announced a nearly 50 per cent increase in minimum wages for all working class in the national capital taking the minimum wage for an unskilled worker to Rs. 14,052 against the existing Rs. 9,568 and Rs. 17,033 against the existing Rs. 11,622 for skilled labourers.
Speaking at the event, minister of labour Gopal Rai blamed the Lieutenant Governor for sitting on the file for the past week, Rai said, “The LG is delaying the process for the workers to get their wages. Why is the government in the centre stalling the working class’ demands? If there are some amendments to be made, we are ready for it but the LG must approve the wage hike.”
Chief minister Kejriwal said that instead of the trickle-down theory practiced by the previous governments, the current Delhi government had decided to give the workers their due share directly. “We have increased the minimum wages of labours by 50 per cent. No other state in the country has increased the wages by this margin. In fact, this is probably the biggest increment of wages since Independence,” said Kejriwal.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, also present at the event said that they were elected to the government by the labour class and that they would fight for their rights till they are in power. “Labourers are the pillars of policy making in this country. We are here to do your work and fight for your rights,” added Sisodia.
Stating the reason to increase the minimum wages of labourers, Kejriwal said that inflation is making survival difficult for a poor man and hence they have decided to increase the wages. “Earlier those who didn’t give the labours their wages were fined Rs. 500, but now we have made the penalty severe and anyone found not paying wages to labours will be jailed for three years,” said Kejriwal.
However, not everyone was happy with the increment of minimum wages by the state government. Workers’ Unity Centre of India (WUCI) submitted a memorandum concerning their demands of Delhi’s workers to chief minister Kejriwal demanding the wages to be set at Rs. 22,000 as the current wage rate is hugely inadequate.
“The majority of the working population of Delhi still does not get minimum wages, which shows how the factory owners, contractors, etc., are over-exploiting workers. Minimum wages and other labour laws should be strictly implemented by the government,” said Sachin, member of the working committee, WUCI.
This article first appeared in The Times of India, Delhi Edition issue dated 02.09.2016