Centre likely to announce labour sops ahead of strike

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With less than a week to go for a nationwide one-day strike called by trade unions, the Centre is likely to announce the acceptance of a few of their demands, including granting social security benefits to anganwadi workers, raising the minimum pension to Rs.2,000 a month for EPF members and revising the minimum wage in the next few days.

The Centre has agreed in-principle to provide social security benefits to around 95 lakh anganwadi workers, top labour ministry officials said. “We will bring necessary labour law amendments to extend provident fund and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation benefits to anganwadi workers,” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

The Labour Ministry is also likely to consider an increase in minimum pension from Rs.1,000 per month to Rs.2,000 per month, another labour ministry official said.

Some of these measures will likely be discussed at the Council of Ministers meeting, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Minimum wages

Centre will also expedite the process of increasing minimum wages for the organised workers. The central advisory board on minimum wages, headed by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, is likely to meet next week to discuss the possibilities of increasing the minimum wages of workers to Rs.10,350 per month, as demanded by RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). At present, the minimum monthly income for workers varies between Rs.3,500 and Rs.10,000 in different states.

The Finance Ministry will also soon issue an executive order for implementation of the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Act which seeks to increase bonus payment to workers. Many industry units in various states had moved their respective high courts to protest the retrospective amendment to the Act. Following the stay orders in various states, the Centre has moved the Supreme Court to challenge the directive, officials said.

The new law doubled the bonus payout calculations and raised the eligibility ceiling to cover employees earning Rs.21,000 a month, compared to Rs.10,000 per month, earlier. Passed by Parliament in December 2015, it was made applicable from April 2014 instead of April 2015.