India not to prescribe minimum wage for its workers abroad

March 3rd, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) India has no intention to prescribe a minimum wage for Indian workers abroad, Bahrain in particular, a senior official said here Monday. The Indian embassy in Bahrain had earlier issued a notification fixing the minimum monthly wage limit for unskilled Indian workers at 100 Bahraini dinars ($266) from March 1. The notification, however, was put on hold pending clarification from New Delhi.

“We will be sending a clarification to the ambassador soon on this subject,” G. Gurucharan, joint secretary (financial services) in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, told IANS Monday.

He said that India had earlier given the power to Indian ambassadors in various countries to prescribe the minimum wage for women workers between $300 and $350 “based on local conditions”.

“The reason that we prescribed the wage limit for women workers was they were not covered under local labour laws,” said Gurucharan.

He also clarified that Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi’s statement on minimum wages was exclusively for women workers.

The senior official noted that India has been “concerned over erosion of real wages of all nationalities due to rising inflation, dollar and locked into contract”.

At the same time, India felt that wages for labourers of general categories, who have certain protection under local laws, should be “driven by market economy”.

Bahrain’s booming construction industry, which employs about 275,000 Indians, was hit this month by a spate of strikes by foreign workers, many of them Indians, demanding better wages and living and working conditions.

The Indian embassy had been blamed for the strikes, and employers claimed that Indian workers were encouraged to go on strike expecting a pay rise following a minimum wage notification.

“Some labourers misunderstood those remarks on the new salary scheme, which will be effective from next month, when new contracts come into force,” Bahrain’s Labour Minister Shaikh Abdulrahman bin Abdulla Al Khalifa was quoted in local media reports on Feb 28.

He added that the country has no plans to introduce a minimum wage policy for its overseas workers.

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