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J&K: CITU Seeks Minimum Wages at Par With Other UTs, Submits Memo to J&K Admin

Anees Zargar |
The trade union is demanding Rs 28,000 as minimum wage. It said most workers being forced to take up two jobs, compelled to work for about 12 hours to make ends meet.
J&K: CITU Seeks Minimum Wages at Par With Other UTs, Submits Memo to J&K Admin

Centre of Indian Trade Unions Log. Image Courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons

Srinagar: The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has urged the Jammu and Kashmir administration to revise the minimum wages and bring these at par with other Union territories since now all laws are being implemented in the region after it became a UT.

In a memorandum submitted to Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday, the central trade union said that due to “skyrocketing” price rise and inflation during the recent years, their demand for Rs 26,000 as minimum monthly wage was “justified”.

“The government should immediately concede the demand,” the memorandum read.

The suggestions were submitted by CITU leaders Om Prakash, Jagdesh Raj and Abdul Rashid Pandit, who attended a meeting in Srinagar and Jammu in view of a notification dated June 27 from the labour department that sought objections and suggestions for workers in various scheduled employment in the UT.

The Jammu & Kashmir administration recently constituted an advisory committee to review the minimum wages. The CITU said it put forth these considerations as rising prices, family budgets of workers across the country in general and J&K in particular are facing a squeeze.

“Whatever meagre increases were achieved are offset by the rising prices. In effect, this means that for the same money, workers are buying less and less amount of commodities,” the memorandum read.

The situation, CITU stated, has become even more difficult for thousands of contract, casual, need- based, consolidated, HDF (hospital development fund), daily wagers working in different departments, as also scheme workers, such as anganwadi workers, ASHAs (accredited social health activists), CPWs (contingent paid workers) and mid-day meal workers in the education department, construction workers working in the organised and unorganised sectors, who are not even being paid the statutory minimum wages.

The memorandum said workers were “desperate” and were being forced to take up two jobs and were compelled to work for about 12 hours at normal wage rates to make ends meet. 

“Such harsh exploitation has blown away the concept of eight- hour working day for many. On the other hand, big corporate houses, both domestic and foreign, continue to reap super profits. They seek to maintain their profits by cutting down the ‘cost’ of labour – by reducing the number of workers, increasing their work load, reducing or ‘freezing’ wages, by contractorisation,” a statement from Abdul Rashid read. 

The trade unions are also demanding that the minimum wage should be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Since 2016, the joint trade union movement has been demanding a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month while the Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers has challenged this recommendation on the basis of the Indian Labour Conference recommendation and Supreme Court directions at the prices prevalent in 2015.

According to CITU, earlier there were three categories of workers - unskilled, semi-skilled and highly skilled -- but the government abolished semi-skilled and kept only two categories which, the union leaders said, was not justified. They also called for restoration of the semi-skilled category.

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