Ensure minimum wages under job scheme, Aruna Roy urges PMJanuary 22nd, 2012 - 3:09 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) Aruna Roy, a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that the government did not oppose court directions to pay the minimum wages to workers under the rural job scheme.
Roy said, “For the government to assert its right to not pay the minimum wage to its poorest workers is not just unconstitutional, it also amounts to an abdication of its duty to uphold the rule of law”.
She expressed dismay over the rural development ministry approaching the Supreme Court against a Karnataka High Court order stipulating the minimum wages for workers under the UPA flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
“I appeal to you and your government to set this imbalance right by accepting the Supreme Court judgments of the past, the orders of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, and the current judgment of the Karnataka High Court,” said Roy in a letter dated Jan 21, shared with reporters.
“We urge you to issue instructions to immediately withdraw the special leave petition (filed by government). Claims of aspiring for inclusive growth by a government that fights the payment of minimum wages will only ring hollow and false.”
Stating that she was “deeply distressed, dismayed and shocked at the government’s move”, Roy said the “decision to approach the apex court reflects the gross insensitivity of the central government towards the rights of the country’s poor”.
Sources said the ministry was instructed to file an appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment, which ruled that no MGNREGS worker could be paid less than the minimum wage in a state.
Roy said the rural job scheme guaranteed basic entitlement to those at the bottom of the economic pyramid and the delinking of the act from minimum wages would render both the job scheme and the Minimum Wages Act weak and ineffective.
In January 2009, the central government issued a notification delinking the rural job scheme from the minimum wages law, freezing wages at Rs.100 per day.
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Tags: abdication, andhra pradesh high court, apex court, aruna roy, court judgment, development ministry, economic pyramid, government claims, gross insensitivity, guarantee scheme, karnataka high court, mahatma gandhi, manmohan singh, minimum wages, national advisory council, poor sources, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, sonia gandhi, supreme court judgments