Wage Share and Wage Freeze in Organised Manufacturing Sector
THE recently promulgated ordinance on wages and salaries on July 6th, as an anti-inflationary measure appears unreasonable (though true to the class character of the ruling polity) when viewed against what really has been happening to the share of labour and its real earnings, in the organised manufacturing sector in India.
This ordinance comes in the wake of the much talked of wage-price spiral which had led, especially since the last year and a half to hectic activity and heated discussions in the officiar circles, on the need for evolving a suitable national wage policy. Only such a bold attack on the wage front it was thought would save the country from this vicious inflationary spiral which is gripping the economy with an ever increasing force. On several occasions the Prime Minister, the Finance and Labour Ministers spoke on this issue, both inside and outside the Parliament and an expert Committee of the Planning Commission, the Chakravarty Committee, was constituted which submitted its interm report last year on a national wage policy. The Union Labour Minister has as yet stubbornly refused to share this report with the public. Of course it was realised that a wages and incomes policy should be integrated with a rational price policy but it was ^admitted that, "The Government was not as yet thinking in terms of a general price freeze as it meant going into each item by item and it would lead to goods disappearing and therefore cause greater hardship on the people" 1 (!)
The final outcome of all this action was the Additional Emoluments (Compulsory Deposit) Ordinance. The ordinance refers to all employees in the organised industrial sector,2 both public and private, and all Central and State Government employees; we are concerned here with the industrial workers alone. These relate to all workers in all industrial establishments employing (a) 10-49 workers with power and 50-99 workers without power, the 'small5 units and (b) 50 or more workers with power and 100 or more workers without power, the 'large' units. These two comprise the organised industrial sector, statistics on which are compiled by the Annual Survey of Industries and the Labour Bureau.8
Under the Ordinance cash payments of further increases in dear-