The high court has upheld the validity of government notifications issued in 2016 and 2017 on increasing the minimum wage in 34 private industries. The decision will benefit thousands of workers.
Justice Krishna S Dixit also ordered the industries to pay the minimum wage to eligible employees within eight weeks, along with an interest of 6% per annum from the date from which the revised wages are payable. The wages were unpaid owing to a stay order from the court.
The petitions were filed by establishments from engineering, baking, rubber, tiles, healthcare (hospitals), oil mills, confectioneries and other industries. Trade unions, including the All India Trade Union Congress, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, welcomed the order.
The court passed the ruling on a batch of petitions filed by the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association and others against the notification issued by the state government under the Minimum Wages Act. The petitioners argued that the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage by 200% to 325% will badly hit the industries.
Fault in data
They also found fault with the data collected by the government in revising the minimum wage, which suggests that the cost of living in Bengaluru, except for the house rent, is lower than that in towns like Kalaburagi and Mandya. The petitioners said the advisory board that was constituted for recommending the minimum wage was not correct and claimed that no opportunity was given to employers to question the methodology of calculating the minimum wage.
The court did not accept any of these arguments, although it extended partial relief to industries by quashing the direction to pay the service seniority allowance at the rate of 1% of the wage of each completed year of service.