November 11, 2021 2:50:29 am
The minimum wage paid to brick kiln workers in Gujarat has been raised to Rs 293 per day for moulding 490 bricks, marking a 125 per cent rise in wage after a 13-year-long struggle, said senior representatives of Ahmedabad-based Int Bhatta Majdur Union.
According to a notification issued by the Labour and Empl-oyment department of Gujarat government on October 5, 2021, the minimum wages for Patlawala-A (brick moulder) has been raised to Rs 293 for 490 bricks.
As per the January 2, 2020 notification of the state government, this category of brick kiln workers — who digs earth, prepare mud mixture, mould bricks, dry them, arrange them in rows and clean place of work — were being paid the same money for 1,100 bricks a day.
“The main object of this notification is to prevent the unrealistic fixation of production norms for eight hours of work. Therefore, the output per worker for eight hours of work has been scientifically studied and derived by Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute (MGLI), Ahmedabad,” government stated while explaining the purpose of the notification.
Dinesh Parmar, secretary of Int Bhatta Majdur Union, said the government notification is a result of the 13-year-long struggle for scientific determination of minimum wages.
“While statutory minimum wages are normally declared on a time-rate basis for eight hours of work, for some occupations the state declares minimum wages on a piece-rate basis. However, the piece rate is determined arbitrarily. This was the case of brick kilns in Gujarat where minimum rate was declared for every 1,100 bricks moulded by hand. There was no scientific basis for the determination of this wage,” Parmar told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
In October 2008, the brick kiln workers union submitted a memorandum to advisory board on minimum wages for fixation of piece rate, after a scientific Time Motion Study. The Board, in turn, forwaded the recommendation to the state government. However, it was only in 2015, the state government asked Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute to set up a committee to undertake a Time Motion Study to determine average production by one worker in eight-hour day. The committee submitted its report in 2017.
However, the Gujarat government on January 2, 2020 notified the statutory minimum wages for brick kiln workers on old pattern for 1100 bricks per day.
“We filed a Special Civil Application in Gujarat High Court in September 2020, demanding quashing of this notification and issuing a new one based on findings of the MGLI study. The government informed the court that it will issue a new notification, following which High Court disposed the matter. This new notification was issued on October 5,” he added.
According to the union, there are over six lakh brick kiln workers enaged in 2,500 kilns across the state. These kilns supply bricks to the real-estate sector.
Apart from Patlawala-A, the other categories of Brick Kiln workers who will receive imporved minimum wages are Patlawala-B (employees are provided earth at work site by employer and employee prepares mix mixture, moulds bricks, dries and arranges them in rows and cleans place of work) who will receive Rs 284 for 490 bricks.
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