Rs 10,000 as minimum wage, is a major demand for 20-21 February, 2013 nation-wide general strike of the workers. All Central Trade Unions and Industrial Federations, representing the entire working class of the country, raised this demand. It is important to note that the trade unions raised this demand for the first time in the national convention of the workers in New Delhi on 7 September 2011. Working Class Family Income & Expenditure Survey, 1999-2000, conducted by Labour Bureau, shows that on an average more than 4 persons in a family depend on income of 1 (one) worker. Therefore, the minimum wage of the worker shall take into consideration the expenses incurred by 4 members’ family unit of a worker. The Planning Commission itself had adopted an average of 2100 calorie in urban areas per person per day as minimum nutritional norms or the poverty line. Based on NSS Reports No.538 on Consumer Expenditure and No.540 on Nutritional Intake in 2009-2010 in urban areas, to meet the requirement of this 2100 calorie intake per person per day bench mark of Planning Commission itself would require Rs.2125 in 2009-2010. And for a family of four (4) would require Rs.8500 per month just to be on poverty line. With 12.5% inflation rate in next two years, based on the consumers price index for the working class, this amount of Rs.8,500 comes to Rs.10,758 per month in 2011-2012 and higher in the current 2012-2013 financial year.
But, Minimum Wage has to be higher than the poverty line expenditure. It is important to note the latest 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) report, which shows that health care and other minimum necessities gobble up major portion of the income of the workers. Such expenses combined with high rate of food inflation and spiralling price rise, forced the workers to cut their food expenses resulting in sharp drop in calorie intake of entire worker’s family. NSS report also shows that on the basis of Planning Commission’s 2100 calorie intake norms itself, 74% of urban people were living below it and almost all of them are unorganized labour to whom Minimum Wages Act applies. A state-wise study will show that in the current financial year, the maximum amount as minimum wage is fixed as Rs.6000. Whatever the minimum wages are fixed, those are also not being paid, under some pretext, pushing the vast majority of workers much below the poverty line struggling for survival and suffering from malnutrition. Therefore, working class is justified in urgently demanding Rs.10000 as Minimum Wage which needs to be adjusted with price rise and inflation. The Planning Commission was established for planned development for the people of the country. However, same Planning Commission, which fixed 2100 calories per day per person in urban areas as minimum nutritional norms; spent 30 lakhs for renovation of Yojna Bhavan toilets and CCTV for surveillance; and arbitrarily and ridiculously announces Rs.32 per day per person as poverty line in urban areas. ( Working Class – January 2013 issue)