Some interesting numbers from the ongoing protests by anganwadi workers. See them in context of minimum wages prescribed by state government.
From The Hindu, Jan 24,
H.K. Ramachandrappa, president of the federation, M.S. Vanajakshi, vice-president, and M.B. Sharadamma, secretary, told presspersons here on Wednesday that anganwadi workers were being paid Rs. 4,500, while assistants were given Rs. 2,250.
I don't know if assistants work full time or not. But if they do, why would anyone be paid a salary of Rs 2250, or about Rs 70 a day when the minimum wage prescribed for agriculture workers (for things like uprooting, escavating etc is Rs 157 / day).
Back to this Rs 4500 / month number, its close to the minimum agri worker prescribed pay of Rs 157 / day. Anganwadi workers are demanding that this be raised to Rs 10000 / month.
Construction workers union too has been asking for the same minimum wage, this quote, from a news report dated Nov 7, 2012:
The Karnataka State Construction Workers’ Federation has demanded that the government fix the minimum wages of construction workers at Rs. 10,000 a month.
Ditto from the trade unions, this is dated Dec 30, 2012:
Speaking at the third district convention of the CITU here on Saturday, Ms. Varalakshmi said that increasing the minimum wage to Rs. 10,000 a month was necessary, not only to help the workers, but also in the interest of the country’s growth. “As long as workers are reeling under socio-economic conditions, the country cannot achieve growth,” she said.
It could all perhaps be a build up towards getting the minimm wage bit in the manifesto of political parties. Question remains - does the minimum wage concept help? How will government fund higher minimum wages? Won't we pay for higher minimum wages through inflation? And then, should there be differential minimum wages fixed for urban areas?
Instead of subsidizing programs for the poor, why not just pay them "directly", through higher floor of minimum wages? Subsidies = money through government programs = scope for pilferage. Higher minimum wage = most likely a reduction in subsidy budgets = less money through government programs = less scope for pilferage? Is this how political parties see this minimum wage thing? Or else, why are we not seeing promises of higher minimum wages - seems like a sitting duck of an item to win some easy votes from the section that everyone thinks does go and vote.
PS: Picture sourced from the Hindu, Dec 30, 2012 newsreport on CITU convention at Hassan.