Kejriwal govt will respond to High Court order rejecting minimum wage
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Saturday said that it “disagrees” with the Delhi high court’s decision to quash its notification regarding an increase in the minimum wage of workers.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government would decide its future course of action after going through the court order. The standing counsel for the Delhi government, Ramesh Singh, said there were around 55 lakh unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers in Delhi.
The Delhi assembly had initially passed The Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendment Act in 2016 but it was returned by the Centre, which suggested some changes. The Bill was reintroduced in August 2017. Lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal also approved the hiking of minimum wages of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers by 37%.
The minimum wages of unskilled workers had increased from Rs 9,724 to Rs 13,350 per month, for semi-skilled workers from Rs 10,764 to Rs 14,698 and for skilled workers from Rs 11,830 to Rs 16,182. The Act stipulated fines ranging from Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000 and a jail term of one to three years for employers who did not pay the minimum wage to employees.
Following the court order, Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi: “In such inflation we had given a big relief to the poor labourers by increasing their minimum wages. The court has quashed our decision. We will decide our future course of action after reading the court’s order. We are committed to the benefit of the poor.”
Delhi’s labour minister Gopal Rai also tweeted the government’s fight for the poor would continue. The high court’s decision came on several pleas filed by various industrial units.
The Delhi government officials said the high court has restrained any coercive action in its earlier hearings, therefore, the implementation had been problematic.
“The Delhi government disagrees with the high court verdict and will decide its next step in favour of workers after studying the order,” a government spokesperson said.
Ishwar Sharma, secretary, Nirman Majdoor Panchayat Sangthan, said the court’s decision would affect workers adversely. He said there were over 10 lakh unorganised sector workers in the city.
“People are forced to work below minimum wages because of unemployment and cut-throat competition. Most of the workers, especially those in unorganised sectors such as construction, never get paid anywhere close to the minimum wages,” he said.