One more populist decision has been made by the Maharashtra government — this time favouring the aam aadmi, especially the lowest strata of farm labour and those employed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) who are badly hit because of the impending drought.
The state government has decided to hike the minimum wages for labourers- farm labour and those working under the NREGS to almost double of the existing wages, making an amendment in the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
Those receiving wages of Rs 66 per day will now get Rs 100 and those who were getting Rs 72 will now get Rs 120.
“This hike was due for long. One of the recommendations of the NREGA was to have a minimum wage of Rs 80, which we had not done. This change comes in this context,” said Labour Minister Nawab Malik, who made the announcement.
The hike in wages ensures that a manual farm labour gets at least Rs 100 per day and a maximum of Rs 120 a day depending on the area he or she works in and the type of work. Similarly, the scale of labour wages working on mechanised farming machines ranges from a minimum of Rs 145 to Rs 160.
The decision to hike wages also has something to do with the drought looming large over the state and the assembly elections that is due in two months.
“If it doesn’t rain well soon, we are expecting substantial increase in the number of labourers turning to the employment guarantee scheme. In that case, the decision is much needed,” said Malik.