CPI (M) Demands Rs 10,000 Rs Minimum Wages for workers

JAMMU: Stating that there seems a systematic and routine violation of labor laws in Jammu and Kashmir, the CPI (M) State Secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami today underscored need for strict implementation of regulations guaranteeing protection to the ‘unprotected’ working class in the state.

While participating in debate on demands for grants in Legislative Assembly, the CPI (M) leader lamented that labourers are enduring minimum wages and overtime violations, hazardous working conditions, discrimination, and retaliation for speaking up or trying to organize. “They have little recourse because of their need for work, especially during the pressing times of inflation and price rise. Workplace violations are severe and widespread in the low-wage labor market.

Underscoring the importance for strict implementation of labour laws in Jammu and Kashmir, Tarigami said the overall condition of labourers in the state is pathetic and the department concerned is in deep slumber. The CPI (M) leader said number of complaints for not receiving minimum wages galore owing to administrative inertia in labour department where some officers rarely bother to probe the deep rooted nexus. “In 1957, Indian Labour Conference formulated minimum wages for a family comprising of three members. For such families, the conference had recommended that it should receive 2700 calories in meals, over 1661 meter clothes, house rent, 20 % of basic pay for Education and Recreation. If these parameters are applied today, such a family should receive minimum wages of Rs 13000 per month. What do such families receive as of now in Jammu and Kashmir is a million dollar question!’ Tarigami remarked.

He urged upon the government to act on the genuine demands of workers, which include strict implementation of minimum wages act. “There must be a time bound schedule to enhance wages in favour of workers, with the addition of variable Dearness Allowance (DA) for the industrial workers as applicable in rest of the country,” he demanded.

He said while receiving minimum wages is still a distant dream in the state, the labourers are presently worried about termination of their jobs without prior notice.  “What add to their pathos are no social security and subletting of their contracts. One is not able to understand, whose oath of allegiance should a labour take after he is engaged by an owner. The owners sub let them to contractors and the contractors in turn sub let them to sub contractors rendering a laborer to face wrath of all,” the CPI (M) leader said while inviting attention of the government.  

Stressing need for computerization in Provident Fund Organization, Tarigami said last year in the same session I had raised this issue demanding issuance of smart cards to workers that could be used in all ATMS but the demands were unfortunately not met. He urged the government to look into this demand seriously so that there is no pilferage in the funds of poor labour class. He also underscored need to include issuance of code number to the employees in provident fund organization and timely settlement of provident fund claims in public services guarantee Act

Expressing serious concern over the deteriorated and inhabitable conditions of labour Sarais  in Jammu and Kashmir, the CPI (M) leader said that though the condition of Saraies is no different in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh where he visited recently, but it should be the priority of the state government to create infrastructure and start renovation wherever needed. “Unfortunately, the administration has failed to utilize the infrastructure created at Katra labour Sarai for the workers and same is the case at Kathua where labour Sarai has not be completed in a span of 10 years. The plight of Pahalgam and Sonamarg labour sarais are also similar where the Saraies have been constructed for workers but occupied by the tourism department. If I am incorrect, a enquiry must be conducted to know the facts,” he added.

He opined that the department of labour must converge with building and other construction workers welfare board  to implement some innovative schemes like opening of construction workers mobile schools, mobile dispensaries, fair price shops which could change the living standard of construction workers apart from other schemes being implemented by the department. “The department must ensure that funds in its kitty are to be expended in a judicious manner for which random inspections need to be conducted through a special vigilance cell of the department that would examine all complaints regarding faulty implementation of building and other construction schemes.”

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