Govt inaction rendering wage hike futile

Bhubaneswar: The State government’s recent revision of minimum wages to labourers has left it in a spot after its own report revealed that action was taken in only one of the 426 cases filed for non-payment of minimum wages last year.

In the report, the government has admitted that only six cases were solved during the period.

“The figures are quite embarrassing. Instead of only announcing policies, the State government must ensure that irrespective of gender, all the labourers must get the desired wage and cases should be registered against the employers for non-payment of minimum wages to them,” State CPM secretary Janardan Pati said.

“It is also surprising that the labour inspectors are neither making field visits to check ground reality nor registering cases against erring employers,” he added.

Echoing his sentiments, senior BJP leader Basant Panda said, “Only promises on pen and paper will not solve the problem. The government must take stringent action against the violators.”

Meanwhile, Labour minister Prafulla Mallick has warned that strong action would be taken against employers and contractors if they fail to pay the minimum wages fixed by the government for workers.

On May Day, the State government increased the minimum wages for daily labourers engaged in various industrial and construction activities in the State.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced that unskilled labourers would get Rs 200 per day while semi-skilled labourers would get Rs 220. For skilled and highly skilled labourers, it has been fixed at Rs 240 and Rs 260 respectively.

As per law, an employer violating the norms regarding minimum wages is liable for imprisonment up to six months along with penalty. However, laxity on the part of concerned authorities has made the policy impractical as the benefit is finally not reached the toiling mass.