Labour Wages in Haryana – Issues and Governmental Failings
18th September 2014
Apart from agriculture most of the people from the supposed lower rungs of the society in Haryana are working as laborers in various establishments like construction sites and factories etc. These people are, in many ways, the moving forces behind the glitzy malls, huge apartments and strong bridges. However, their lives have remained the same – evident from the lack of upward social mobility - in spite of years of their toil; one wishes to ask the question – do they get a proper remuneration that allows them to access the very best amenities and facilities as their supposed masters are able to do. The answer is perhaps no.
The Haryana Government has, in yet another instance of its continued series of failures, been unable to revise the minimum limit of the wages to be paid to contracted labourers. In fact it had been announced in 2013 that there would be a 52% increase in wages paid to Haryana laborers but all that has come to pass as of now. This has also led to problems among the labourers in the industrial areas especially at locations such Manesar and Gurgaon. A few years back there had been a similar situation whereby companies such as Maruti Suzuki faced a serious problem with their workers over the issue of wages.
In fact the labour unions in the state have started to put pressure on both the companies as well as the government and if this situation is allowed to continue it could significantly hamper the industrial production process that has almost become the economic lifeline of Haryana in the recent years. If production is hampered, it could have an adverse reaction on sales as well. As it is, some sectors of Haryana like automobiles are not doing exactly well on that count and the last thing that they would want in this situation is a reduction of sales. In the long term this will only damage the state’s economic credibility.
What the government has failed to understand, or perhaps does not want to understand, is that if it is unable to increase its promise of increasing wages then it would only lead to resentment among the workers – in fact such is the situation in the automobile sector where there has been plenty of unrest among workers over the issue of increasing wages for workers who are not on payroll. The worst part is that, as a part of the cost-cutting strategies of the big companies, now there are more workers on contract rather than on payroll and if the contracted laborers strike work then it would have an adverse impact on their operations.
As far as the leaders of trade unions in Haryana are concerned the government has been discriminatory in its approach to dealing with the wages issue. While it has upped the minimum ceiling for staff working in government offices and establishments it has not provided any such relief to people working in the private sector companies. As per Section 3, Minimum Wages Act, 1948 the minimum wages in Haryana are revised after every 5 years. The last time it was supposed to be adjusted was during 2012. At present the minimum monthly wage for laborers in Haryana is INR 5342. However, the permanent employees receive a substantially greater amount as well as various benefits and performance-related bonuses.
The government needs to understand that just making tall promises without finally fulfilling them is not benefitting the state any further. There needs to be a proper analysis and feasibility study before any economic change is announced. People want an accountable and trustworthy government, not an incompetent administration wallowing in false self-grandeur.