PM urged to withdraw PIL against minimum wages ruling

PM urged to withdraw PIL against minimum wages ruling

Social activist Aruna Roy has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to instruct the Rural Development Ministry to withdraw application filed against a Karnataka High Court order ensuring minimum wages for rural job scheme workers.

In a letter to the prime minister,  Roy said she was “deeply distressed, dismayed, and shocked” that the ministry has been instructed to  file an appeal against the High Court order.

“This decision reflects the gross insensitivity of the Central government towards the rights of the country’s poor. The MGNREGA ([Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) is the main legislation that guarantees those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, their basic entitlements.”

In January 2009 the Central Government issued a notification under Section 6(1) of the MGNREGA delinking NREGA from Minimum Wages, and freezing wages at Rs 100 per day.

Roy said in the letter: “Non-payment of Minimum Wages is not only unconstitutional but amounts to “forced labour. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court in the Judgment on Sanjit Roy v/s State of Rajasthan (1983).”

“Today the Minimum Wage Act is the one of the only protective legislation for those in the lower rungs of employment or in less secure and un-secure jobs. The MGNREGA has played a crucial role in making the Minimum Wage Act more effective because of its direct linkage to the Minimum Wages Act,” Roy said.

She said a delinking of the MGNREGA wage rate from that of  Minimum Wages seriously compromises the rights of MGNREGA workers.

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