Labour and Employment Minister Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate appears to be in a hurry to revise minimum wages in the State to draw political mileage. Industry bodies have submitted a memorandum to the Minister and to the Chief Minister to have a scientific and realistic approach for increase in the wages.
When minimum wages were revised at Rs. 307/- for unskilled workers in 2016, the Government for the first time introduced payment of Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) to take care of increase in Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Industrial Workers. As on April 2022, the VDA has increased to Rs. 85/- per day and, accordingly, minimum wage payable has increased to Rs. 392/- per day. Minister’s statement that there is no increase in wages for the last six years is totally wrong.
CPI (IW) with base 2016=100 for Goa in July 2022 has increased to 127.1 and, accordingly, the minimum wage works out to Rs. 390/- as against the present Rs. 392/- being paid. In the past, in the absence of VDA, wages were increased to around 40 to 42%. We do appreciate that there is overall increase in cost of living. The industry bodies have, therefore, suggested that the minimum wage for unskilled workers can be Rs. 307/- + 85/- + 43/- = Rs. 435/- which is an increase of 42%. Consequently, minimum wage for other categories will also go up in similar proportion.
Wages are not the only cost for the businesses. In addition it has to pay EPF, ESIC, LWF and bonus which works to another Rs. 95/-. Besides, cost of raw material, power, transport etc., has gone up. Irrational increase in wages will force labour intensive units to close down. Further, Government should consider wages existing in areas of neighbouring States to avoid influx of labour from other States and deprive employment to local youth.
We are given to understand that many Government Departments are not paying EPF, ESIC contribution of their workers on contract and, hence, it does not know the actual cost. Having anti-business measures such as high retrenchment compensation, high minimum wages in the State sends a negative signal to investors to set factories in Goa.We hope the Government will consider all these issues before announcing revision in minimum wages.