Third Pay Commission Need-based Minimum Wage Denied
WHILE framing the Constitution the leaders of the newly independent India thought it necessary to incorporate as part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, the broad outlines which should cover the wage structure of the employees. It has been categorically stated therein that, the State shall endeavour to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities. . . •1
Necessary caution was also given in the Constituent Assembly at the time of acceptance of the draft of Directive Principles in these words :
Surely it is not the intention, to introduce in this part these principles as mere pious declarations. It is the intention of the Assembly that in future both the legislature and the executive should not merely pay lip service to these principles but that they should be made the basis of all legislative and executive action. . .2 (Emphasis added).
In essence this declaration assured the workers that where they were not able to secure for themselves a living wage the government, through legislation or other means, will come to their aid. But even after more than two decades since the Constitution was adopted, no endeavour has been made either by any government, Central or state or by any employer, to ensure a living wage9 to the working people of the country. This is not all. Most of the employees in the public and private sectors are deprived even of the 'minimum wage' required for a bare sustenance, with the result that their families are compelled to live below the 'povertA line9.
Nowadays it is an accepted principle that minimum wage has to be paid by an employer to his employees. The Committee on Fair Wages set up in 1948 observed that there is under any set of economic circumstances a minimum that a worker must get. In the case of Kamani Metals & Alloys Ltd Vs Workmen (1957), the Supreme Court of India pronounced a judgement:
Broadly speaking, the first principle is that there is a minimum wage which, in any event, must be paid, irrespective of the extent of pro-