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Workers in Kerala Paid Highest in the Country- RBI Report

Perks paid to MLAs are among the lowest in the country; Maharashtra- Gujarat fare poorly in paying their workers while standing high on paying their legislators.
RBI

Reserve Bank of India. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: ANI

The daily wages for construction, general agricultural and non-agricultural worker in rural areas is the highest in Kerala as per the report of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Apart from being the highest, the gap between the wages in Kerala and other succeeding states is relatively high. 

The wage paid to the workers in Kerala is more than double compared to the lowest wages and the national average. 

On the contrary, the perks paid to the elected members of the legislative assembly (MLA) are among the lowest in the country. Several industrialised states like  Maharashtra and Gujarat fare poorly in paying their workers while standing high on paying the legislators. 

The high wages in Kerala are attributed to the sustained struggle of the trade union movements across the organised and unorganised sectors. The role of different regimes of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government is also crucial in ensuring the rights of the workers. 

KERALA TOPS WAGES FOR WORKERS

The state of Kerala tops the ‘daily wages category’ listed by the RBI for 2020-21. The construction workers, general agricultural workers and non-agricultural workers are among the best paid in the country as per the report. The report lists the state-wise average daily wage in Rural India for 20 states and Union Territories.

A construction worker from Kerala earns an average wage of Rs 829.7 against the national average of Rs 362.2. 12 states pay the construction workers below the national average including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Table: Top 5 and bottom 5 states for wages of construction workers (Source: Handbook of statistics on Indian states by RBI)

Table: Top 5 and bottom 5 states for wages of construction workers (Source: Handbook of statistics on Indian states by RBI)

The general agricultural workers earn Rs 706.5 against the national average of Rs 309.9, with 10 states paying below the national average including West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Table: Top 5 and bottom 5 states for wages of general agricultural workers (Source: Handbook of statistics on Indian states by RBI)

Table: Top 5 and bottom 5 states for wages of general agricultural workers (Source: Handbook of statistics on Indian states by RBI)

The average wage earned by non-agricultural workers stands at Rs 677.6 while the national average is Rs 315.3.

Table: Top 5 and bottom 5 states for wages of general agricultural workers (Source: Handbook of statistics on Indian states by RBI)

Table: Top 5 and bottom 5 states for wages of general agricultural workers (Source: Handbook of statistics on Indian states by RBI)

The state of Gujarat, hyped as a model state during the 2014 elections, figures in the list of the bottom five states with low wages in all three categories. Kerala, painted in bad colours by the right-wing media and activists, stands out as the best paid state- much higher than the national average.

HISTORIC WORKERS STRUGGLE MADE IT POSSIBLE

The trade union leaders point to the history of struggles in the past leading to the higher wages paid to the workers. 

Speaking to NewsClick, Anathalavattam Anandan, Kerala state president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) pointed to the sustained struggles for better wages. "It is because of the continuous struggles by the working class and the initiatives of the LDF governments which ruled the state, the workers get higher wages," he said.

The veteran leader also attributes the better wages to the better purchasing capacity of the workers. "This is another reason for the minimum price for a variety of products in the market. Only such a model can support the market, workers and farmers", Anandan added.

Responding to the allegations on trade unions for creating worker unrest, Anandan said that the trade unions intervene only when the rights of the workers are denied. "The allegations of industries shutting down due to worker unrest is untrue. Only because of the struggles the workers are ensured of their social welfare measures including bonus". 

KERALA LAWMAKERS PAID LESS

Recently, the Delhi assembly passed a bill to revise the remunerations to the MLAs to Rs 90,000 per month, a 66% increase. This led to a series of discussions on the paychecks for the MLAs in different states and the rationale behind the expenditure. 

A comparison of the wages paid to MLAs in different states shows a contrasting figure. Most of the states pay more than Rs 1 lakh per month to the legislators, while nine states pay less than one lakh. Tripura pays the lowest salary of Rs 48,420, while Sikkim (Rs 52,000), Rajasthan (Rs 55,000), Assam and Meghalaya (Rs 60,0000), Mizoram (Rs 65,000) are paying the lowest for lawmakers. 

Image: Salary and allowances paid to MLAs in different states (Source: Reports and relevant websites)

Image: Salary and allowances paid to MLAs in different states (Source: Reports and relevant websites)

MLAs from Goa, Haryana and Punjab receive more than Rs 1 lakh per month towards salary and allowances.  

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