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LABOUR LAW PROJECT TOPIC MINIMUM WAGES ACT- CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY AND NEW ASPECT

1.) The minimum wages act up hails the ARTICLE 43 of the indian constitution, which states that, Living wage, etc, for workers The State shall endeavor to secure, by suitable legislation or
economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the State shall endeavor to promote cottage industries on an individual or cooperative basis in rural areas

The spirit of the minimum wages act of India is relied in the soul on of the article 43 of Indian constitution, which SADLY is enshrined in part IV of the constitution and hence is non-enforceable by law. 2.) Another constitutional provision that the minimum wages act is said to defy is the ARTICLE 19(1g) which says that to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business It is questioned by certain jurists that the provisions of the minimum wages act that ask for providing a fixed minimum wage by the employers to the labours is a BAR to their fundamental right guaranteed under 19(1g). But this question has been raised again and again in the honorable courts which have dissented from this opinion and upheld the validity of minimum wages act. In GUL MUHAMMAD TARA SAHEB VS STATE OF BOMBAY 1962,

Where the honorable court pointed out that the provision of 19(1g) is subject to restriction enshrined in 19(6) of the Indian constitution. Article 19(6) states that, Nothing in sub clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to, (i) (ii)

Here in 19(6) the words, the interest of general public creates a restriction on the exercise of this right with respect to public order i.e to preserve public order, the right can be curtailed.
The same question was raised in V.UNICHOV VS STATE OF KERALA 1962, And the court upheld the view of GUL MOHAMMAD case.

It was held in this case that the fixation of minimum wages is for the preservation of public order. As if no minimum wage is fixed, it shall lead to arbitrariness by the employer and lead TO CLASHES OF INTEREST BETWEEN EMPLOYER AND LABOUR, which shall cause FRICTION IN SOCIETY. 3.) The ARTICLE 14 of the indian constitution, which relates to equality. Now , it must be noted that minimum wages are not fixed in the nation. They vary from places to places and region to region. This provision of the minimum wages act is condemned by certain jurist as to said to violates RIGHT TO EQUALITY. But this view is also put down by the courts throughout the nation .

In BHIKUSHA vs SANGAMARA 1963 It was held by the court that person would be liable to different minimum wages if they are working in different locality. In C B BOARDING AND LODGING vs STATE 1970, It was held that persons working in different industry, even though they work in the same locality would be granted different wages. Hence the question of the difference of wages throughout nation is totally disregarded by the courts. In N.M.WADIA CHARITABLE HOSPITAL vs STATE OF MAHARASTRA 1993, It was held by the court that fixing different minimum wages for different locality is permitted under the constitution and under labour laws. Hence the question that any provision of the minimum wages act is in any way against the provisions of constitution is wrong. The minimum wages act is valid in all sense and completely. As pointed out by the UNION LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT MINISTER SHRI MALLIKARIUN KHARGE, The variation of minimum wages between the States is due to differences in socioeconomic and agro-climatic conditions, prices of essential commodities, paying capacity, productivity and local conditions influencing the wage rate. The regional disparity in minimum wages is also attributed to the fact that both the Central and State Governments are the appropriate Government to fix, revise and enforce minimum wages in scheduled employments in their respective jurisdictions under the Act.

NEW ASPECTS IN MINIMUM WAGES ACT

For the new aspects in the minimum wages act, we need to regard the discussion in the present session of the parliament and the views forwarded by the Union Labour & Employment Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge
The Union Labour & Employment Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge has informed the Rajya Sabha that the norms recommended by the Indian Labour Conference (ILC), held in 1957 are taken into account while fixing the minimum wages. These are as follows: a) b) c) d) 3 consumption units for one earner. Minimum food requirements of 2700 calories per average Indian adult. Clothing requirements of 72 yards per annum per family. Rent corresponding to the minimum area provided for under Governments

Industrial Housing Scheme. e) Fuel, Lighting and other miscellaneous items of expe nditure to constitute 20%

of the total minimum wage. The Honble Supreme Court delivered a judgement in the case of REPTAKOS & CO. VS. ITS WORKERS that the childrens education, medical requirement, minimum recreation including festivals/ceremonies, provision for old age, marriage etc. should constitute 25% of the minimum wage and used as a guide in fixation of minimum wages. The State Governments have been requested from time to time to keep the above norms and judicial pronouncement in view while fixing/revising the minimum wages.

The recently held 44th Indian Labour Conference, inter alia, discussed the issue of amendment of the Minimum Wages Act and made certain recommendations for incorporation in the amendment proposals. The recommendations were mainly on national minimum wage, enhancement of penal provisions, adoption of VDA in all States/UTs, etc. A Conference Committee of the 44th session of ILC was constituted to discuss Agenda Item No.(i) concerning Minimum Wages and related issues. These issues, inter alia, include norms for fixation/revision of minimum rates of wages, Variable Dearness Allowance(VDA), National Floor Level Minimum Wages etc. On the basis of detailed discussion, the following points emerged. 1. There was broad consensus that the Government may fix minimum wages as per

the norms/ criteria recommended by the 15th ILC (1957) and the directions of the Honble Supreme Court (Reptakos& Co. Vs. its workers Union) 1992. The Government may take necessary steps accordingly. 2. It was suggested that the Minimum Wages Act should cover all employments

and the existing restriction for its applicability on the scheduled employments only should be deleted. This will also help India ratify ILO Convention No.131. 3. It was broadly agreed that there should be national minimum wages applicable

to all employments throughout the country. 4. It was pointed out that the payment to the apprentices should be treated

differently from the other categories. 5. The Committee noted that at present there are 12 States/UTs who have not

adopted VDA. There was consensus that all States/UTs should adopt VDA.

6.

It was also recommended that the payment of minimum wages should be done

through Banks/Post Offices etc. 7. It was felt that the enforcing agencies should not be given the power of

adjudication and, therefore, this proposal should be re-examined. 8. Regarding penal provision for violation of the Act, it was felt that imprisonment

clause under Section 22 and 22A is harsh to the employer and may be re-examined. Further, it was felt that non-maintenance of registers should not attract imprisonment. 9. The proposal of paying different minimum wages in respect of same

employment either in the Centre or in the States should be done away with.