Jay Panda urges AP govt to implement Minimum Wages Act

Bhubaneswar: Senior BJD leader and Lok Sabha MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda on Wednesday urged the Andhra Pradesh government to implement its own Minimum Wages Act to ensure welfare of the migrant Odia brick kiln workers.

During his visit to the brick kilns of Maheswaram mandal in Ranga Reddy district, Panda observed that the core issue of the labourers remained unaddressed.

“The labourers’ working conditions are suboptimal and they live in very difficult conditions. But the worst of all is that they are not getting the minimum wages. The core issue is the implementation of the AP govt's own Minimum Wages Act. Unless this Act is implemented in the right earnest, worker welfare cannot be ensured,” said Panda.

The MP acknowledged the initiatives being undertaken by the Labour Commission and the district administration and felt the State must take all measures to ensure the safety of all workers, especially women and even the activists working in the area.

“Although the AP govt is taking certain steps for welfare, I think they need to take bigger steps to ensure the basic requirement that the minimum wages are paid so that these workers are not exploited,” stated the parliamentarian.

Panda’s visit followed exploitation reports of migrant Odia labourers employed in these brick kilns at the hands of kiln owners and difficulties being faced by them.

According to reports the wages paid to these workers are much less than the amounts stipulated by the Minimum Wages Act in Andhra Pradesh. While a worker is supposed to get Rs. 367 for mixing clay and moulding 1000 bricks, the effective wage payout (including the advance received by the labourers) is Rs. 180-250, reports found.

Panda had earlier written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and the Labour Minister, requesting them to investigate the matter and to ensure that the workers receive basic minimum wages stipulated by the Andhra Government under law.

Survey figures show that over two lakh migrant workers from western districts of Odisha seasonally migrate to brick kilns in primarily three districts of Andhra Pradesh.