Social Scientist. v 1, no. 12 (July 1973) p. 55.


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Third Pay Commission Need-based Minimum Wage Denied

INDIA is a country where the immense majority, nearly two-thirds of the people, live below the poverty line< Under the present pattern of capitalist development, the right to work is a far cry. It is natural for the toiling masses to ask for a need-based minimum wage to ensure the basic necessities of life; In other words, the need-based minimum wage is a minimum subsistence level wage which is just reasonable to give an adequate standard of life for an average worker's family consisting of three consumption units for one earner. Below this is starvation level wage, a sub-human wage—tied up with inhuman conditions of work and living, signifying in the historical context a feudal-colonial framework inherited by the bourgeoisie and the landlords.

One of the familar political gimmicks played by the ruling Congress Government over the decades has been to sidetrack legitimate demands like need-based minimum wage of the working people by appointing commissions.

The Third Pay Commission sat over the demand for a need-based wage for three long years, wasted Rs 74 lakhs of public money and ultimately denied this basic demand, probably to carry out the wishes of the Government. Once again the hypocritical slogans of 'garibi hatao* and 'social justice9 of the Congress Government stand nakedly exposed before the exploited masses of the Indian people.

The demand for a need-based minimum wage was focussed in the massive strikes of the Central Government employees in 1960 and 1968. Earlier the workers had rejected the wage-freeze policy of the First Five Year Plan. The country-wide struggles waged by the working class at the beginning of the Second Plan forced the Government to enter into a tripartite agreement at the 15th Indian Labour Conference (ILG) in 1957 accepting the norms of a need-based minimum wage and for appointment of wage boards to fix such wages in various industries. These norms were meant to govern the wage policy under the Second Plan.



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