The minimum wages recently notified by the AAP government are “too little” and “inadequate” to sustain an individual in the prevailing economic conditions in the national capital, the Delhi High Court said today.
The observations were made when the court was hearing petitioners like traders, petrol dealers and restaurant owners, who had challenged the Delhi government’s notification.
It also remarked that these petitioners would not be able to say on affidavit that they were giving all the benefits under the labour law to their workmen.
As per the Delhi government March 3 notification, the minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled labour were fixed around Rs 13,350, Rs 14,698 and Rs 16,182 respectively.
“Is it possible to sustain an individual on Rs 13,000? Average cost of commute for an individual per day is around Rs 100 which comes to Rs 3,000 in a month. Where do you eat? One has to eat. That would also cost Rs 50 per day. The amount of Rs 13,000 is too little. It’s inadequate,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra said.
The plea by some associations representing traders, dealers and restaurateurs had challenged the minimum wages notified by the AAP government for workmen.
The bench told the employers to “take a more proactive role” and decide what should be the minimum wages if they were aggrieved by the wages fixed by the government, saying “charity begins at home”.
“Look at the workmen. They have to also take care of their families and you (employers) are challenging the minimum wages of Rs 13,000 to Rs 16,000,” the court said.
However, the court also ordered that no coercive action should be taken till September 11 against the employers who do not implement the notification.
Observing that the “workmen were being discriminated against as supply was more than demand,” the court said that none of the petitioners would be able to say on affidavit that they were giving the benefits available under the labour law to their workmen.
It said the workmen, in majority of the cases, were not even given a letter or contract of employment or bonuses and overtime, among other benefits.
The court also said that even a house maid, who works full-time, is paid not less than Rs 15,000 and besides, the employers also take care of her needs for food, clothing and toiletries.
It issued notice to the office of the Lieutenant Governor and the labour department of the Delhi government and sought their stand to the employers’ plea by September 11 this year.
The employers, represented by the associations of traders, petrol dealers and restaurants, have sought setting aside of the March 3 notification on the ground that they were not represented or heard by the committee which had recommended revision of the wages.
They also sought the setting aside of the order of September 15 last year constituting the committee which comprised of five labour unions and three independent persons nominated by the Delhi government.
The employers category, in the panel, was represented by CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, public works department and the Delhi Metro, the petition by the associations said.
The petitioners have claimed that these employers’ bodies did not have any expertise with regard to the nature of employment in the national capital territory and therefore, they could not have represented the interests of the employers of Delhi.