This week, the West Bengal government announced the hike in minimum wages for workers under unorganised and agriculture sector from next month. With new rates, the unskilled workers of 58 unorganised sectors in urban areas would get their monthly minimum wages including variable DA hiked from Rs 3878 to Rs 4967.
Similarly the monthly minimum wages including variable DA for semi-skilled workers increased from Rs 3903 to Rs 5423, for skilled workers from Rs 3928 to Rs 6010 and for high skilled workers from Rs 3953 to Rs 6610 per month.
In rural areas, monthly minimum wages including variable DA for unskilled workers have increased from Rs 3762 to Rs 4687, for semi-skilled workers from Rs 4138 to Rs 5156, for skilled workers from Rs 4552 to Rs 5672 and for highly skilled workers from Rs 5007 to Rs 6239, the minister said.
Daily minimum wages including variable DA for unskilled agricultural workers also increased to Rs 159 (without meal) and Rs 148 (with two meals), for semi-skilled to Rs 175 (without meal) and Rs 164 (with two meals), and for skilled ones to Rs 192 (without meals) and Rs 181 (with two meals).
Earlier minimum wages for agricultural workers were Rs 112.50 (without meal) and Rs 102.50 (with two meals).
Altogether 2.5 crore unorganised sector workers and agricultural labourers in the state would be benefited from this decision. The state government has directed that all employers are liable to pay this wage. "The state government would also set up 480 labour welfare facilitation centre to assist such workers in case of any problem in getting the right wages," state labour minister Anadi Sahu said.
The Left Front government has already initiated wide ranging social security benefits for the unorganised sector. In West Bengal, for the first time in the country, at the initiative of the Left Front government, a provident fund scheme for workers in the unorganised sector was introduced in the year 2000-01. Nearly 20 lakh workers have registered themselves for the scheme. The Left Front government has also constituted a Health Insurance Scheme for these workers. Under this scheme workers of 44 industries have been covered and 12 categories of self- employed workers have also been covered. More than one and a half lakh workers are registered under a scheme for the workers in the construction sector, whereby the workers have to pay Rs 20 per month and avail of the various facilities under this scheme. Under this scheme, medical allowances are provided to the workers, in addition to the provision of pensions for these workers. A social security scheme for the workers in the transport sector has been started in 2010. Since 1998, the Left Front government is maintaining a scheme of giving allowance to workers of the closed factories.
People’s Democracy, February 27, 2011