The CPI(M) gave assurance in its draft manifesto to take steps to increase the minimum wages of labourers to Rs 15,000 if voted to power. The move comes at the time when the erstwhile Left Front government had not revised the same based on the factors like calorie quotient requirement in its tenure of 34 years. As a result, a few months after the change of guard in the state, the minimum wage had to be increased by 34 per cent in one go. The false promises of the erstwhile government came to light after senior officials from the State government said that the “pro-poor government” in three decades didn’t take encouraging steps to increase the minimum wages of labourers by a decent amount. This has deteriorated the conditions of the wage earners in the past three decades. They had gone from pillar to post to increase their wages hoping that the Left Front government will honour their words. After the TMC government came to power in 2011, steps were taken to increase the minimum wages of workers in various sectors.
Following necessary studies conducted by a national institute of hygiene in Hyderabad, the calorie quotient has been increased from 2200 calories to 2700 calories per person. Fixing of the calorie quotient is one of the main criterions to revise the minimum wages after every five years. In doing so the calculation by the experts had shown that there was a need to increase the minimum wages by 34 per cent, an official of the State Labour department said. Minimum wages can be revised in two ways, firstly, in every six months and secondly after every five years.
The revision after every six months is mainly based on the immediate effects of the rise in the essential commodity price while the revision after every five years may take place based on calorie quotient and several other factors.
When TMC came to power, the minimum wage was around Rs 6,600 and with the increase of 34 per cent the amount has now gone up around Rs 10,000 plus. The official added that steps were taken to ‘strictly implement’ the revision in the scale of minimum wages since September 2011 and the next revision is expected to take place in 2017.
Earlier, there were 61 sectors in the minimum wages net. Now the number has gone up to 91 sectors. The new sectors include garments manufacturing industry, sponge iron and biscuits manufacturing industry.