Centre rejects ILC recommendations on minimum wages

Workers are employed on honorary basis , says govt

The Centre has rejected the Indian Labour Congress (ILC) recommendation of providing minimum wages and social security benefits to various categories of workers employed under the state and Central government schemes, such as Accredited Social Health Activist (Asha), Anganwadi and midday meal.  

The Centre held that since these workers were employed by the government purely on a honorary basis and were not regular appointments, providing minimum wages or extending any social security benefits, in line with that of permanent government employees like provident fund, ESI or gratuity, is not possible.  

The ILC, addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in its meeting held in Delhi last year passed the resolution saying that workers serving under various Centrally sponsored schemes like Asha, Anganwadi and midday meal schemes should be provided minimum wages by recognising them as unorganised sector employees, extend all social security benefits and allow them to form trade unions. 

The Union Labour Ministry in its action taken report prepared for last year’s ILC’s recommendations said that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which pays honorarium to Asha workers, the Ministry of Woman and Child Welfare, which pays honorarium to Anganwadi workers, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, which manages the midday meal scheme, rejected the demand. Besides, as they were honorary employees, the government also rejected giving trade union status to their association. 

When trade union leaders raised the issue at a Labour Standing Committee meeting chaired by Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes a few days ago, the minister reportedly assured them that the government would make some announcement about welfare schemes. 

He also promised to bring these workers under the ambit of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, a Centrally sponsored health scheme for the unorganised sector. 

At present, unorganised sector employees are entitled to Rs 6,500 per month as minimum wages, but Asha, Anganwadi and midday meal workers were getting only an  honorarium provided by the state as well as the Central government, which is very less.

  “If they are recognised as unorganised sector employees, then the government has to pay minimum wages. To avoid that the government wanted to treat them as just honorary employees and not unorganised sector workers,” Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh president Saji Narayanan told Deccan Herald. 

While the Puducherry and Tamil Nadu governments are giving minimum wages to these workers, rest of the states were reluctant despite repeated demands from various labour unions. 

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