Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Monday a nearly 50% increase in minimum wages for the Capital’s workforce, underscoring his government’s push for economic parity in a growing rich-poor divide.
He urged his counterparts and the Prime Minister to revise wages across India, saying “policies that take care of only the super-rich won’t work” and governments should take care of the poor.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s proposal is to raise the minimum wage of an unskilled person from Rs 9,568 to Rs 14,052. Besides, wages for semi-skilled and skilled people will increase from Rs 10,582 to Rs 15,471 and from Rs 11,622 to 17,033.
“In an industrial unit, a mechanic and welder would be classified skilled, his helper would be semi-skilled, while an ordinary labourer would be called unskilled,” a government official said.
The chief minister made the announcement at an Independence-Day event in north Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium, saying his cabinet will clear the proposal this week.
“Those who have less in life should have more in law. The AAP government works for all … rich, poor, middle-class. But it focuses more on the middle-class and poor, and works the most for the poor,” Kejriwal said.
All commercial establishments and industry under the Delhi Shops and Establishments Act, 1954, will have to implement the revised rates. But the benefit is unlikely to reach domestic helps and workers in unorganised home units, which are not within the law’s ambit.
Kejriwal’s announcement was expected as an empowered committee constituted by his government in April recommended last week a hike in minimum wages across board.
Traders and industrialists are unhappy with the wage revision, arguing that they might lose business to satellite cities such as Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon because of costlier labour in New Delhi.
Kejriwal allayed their fears after labour minister Gopal Rai informed him on Friday about the possible impacts of a wage revision.
The chief minister said more money in the pockets of poor will strengthen the economy.
“In the existing economic model, the super-rich have become richer and the poor has become poorer. Now, the governments will have to take the responsibility of making targeted policies for people living on the margins.”