JNU Minimum Wage Struggle
The Report on the Working of the Minimum Wages Act says, In a labour surplus economy like India wages couldn’t be left to be determined entirely by forces of demand and supply as it would lead to the fixation of wages at a very low level resulting in exploitation of less privileged class.
Keeping this in view, the Government of India enacted the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. The purpose of the Act is to provide that no employer shall pay to workers in certain categories of employments wages at a rate less than the minimum wage prescribed by notification under the Act.
The Act provides for fixation/ periodic revision of minimum wages in employments where the labour is vulnerable to exploitation. Under the Act, the appropriate Government, both Central and State can fix/revise the minimum wages in such scheduled employments falling in their respective jurisdiction.
The term ‘Minimum Wage Fixation’ implies the fixation of the rate or rates of minimum wages by a process or by invoking the authority of the State. Minimum wage consists of a basic wage and an allowance linked to the cost of living index and is to be paid in cash, though payment of wages fully in kind or partly in kind may be allowed in certain cases.
The statutory minimum wages has the force of law and it becomes obligatory on the part of the employers not to pay below the prescribed minimum wage to its employees. The obligation of the employer to pay the said wage is absolute.
As recently as March 7, 2005, Delhi High Court has held that Minimum Wages Act was applicable to the University of Delhi and its colleges. It said, There is no reason why at least the minimum wages which is the bare minimum requirement for sustenance and subsistence of an employee should not be paid.
According to a release dated 19 April, 2006 of Press Information Bureau, Government of India "The rates of minimum wages for unskilled agricultural workers in the Central spheres is from Rs. 102.00 to Rs. 114.00 with effect from June 16, 2005. In case of States/UTs it varies from Rs. 110.10 (Delhi) to Rs. 39.87 (Arunachal Pradesh Area I)."
The implementation of the Act in Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi would set a positive precedent for the whole country.