In an interim order, the Supreme Court today directed that a 37% hike in minimum wages be restored thus reversing a Delhi High Court order of August that had scrapped the hike. However, the apex court’s order was only a temporary respite because the hiked rates will be available only for three months during which, the Delhi govt. will have to reconstitute the Minimum Wage Board and revise its method of fixing wages to arrive at new rates.
Minimum wages for workers in various industrial types units in Delhi are fixed by the state govt. through a Minimum Wage Board that has representatives of workers, employers and the govt. In May 2017, the govt. had announced a 37% hike in minimum wages following a Board recommendation to that effect. However, this order was hotly disputed by various industry bodies in Delhi. Trade unions had welcomed the hike and called it a much needed relief for suffering workers.
Later, the industry bodies took the matter to court, arguing that the hike was too steep and unjustified. They argued that there were various procedural lapses in finalising the hiked rates.
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The matter was heard by the High Court for several months and decision reserved in December 2017. Finally, in August 2018, the High Court declared that the Delhi govt. order hiking the wages was unsustainable because it had not followed due procedure. The Delhi govt. took the matter to the Supreme Court. Several trade unions too joined in.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s trade unions have welcomed the apex court’s interim order. CITU president of Delhi, Virender Gaur said in a statement that they welcomed the order. It urged the Delhi govt. to ensure that the revision process should be undertaken ‘diligently’ in the three month time frame set by the Court. CITU also welcomed the Supreme Court’s permission for it to be impleaded in the case.
Details of the Supreme Court interim order are awaited.