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Grievances remain 

Grievances remain 
Highlights

Even as the headline-chasing media is agog with the description of government’s approval of the Seventh Pay Panel recommendations as a bonanza, the employees and workers of various Central government departments and organisations are deeply aggrieved at the payouts.

Even as the headline-chasing media is agog with the description of government’s approval of the Seventh Pay Panel recommendations as a bonanza, the employees and workers of various Central government departments and organisations are deeply aggrieved at the payouts. The Central government employees and workers along with the Railways and the Defence staff have also called for an indefinite strike to protest against what they call a disappointing pay panel.

What is exactly the gulf between the popular belief flashed on the television screens and newspaper front pages and the hurt sentiment among the employees?
The root of the controversy lies in the fixation of the basic pay which would have an impact on all the pay-scales across the ladder. The government approved the Pay Commission recommendation of Rs 18,000 as the minimum wage in the Central government, while the employees wanted Rs 26,000. The government argues that the present minimum wage is more than double the existing minimum wage which is Rs 7,000. But, this is a mere statistical jugglery.

The wage revision is coming into effect after a decade. One has to add the increased emoluments to arrive at the actual minimum wage being drawn which now stands at Rs 15,750. Thus the new minimum wage is only marginally higher than the wage presently drawn. This is causing a lot of heart burn among employees, especially at the lower level.

Even this marginal rise in the minimum wage is squeezed by the hike in group insurance, CGHS besides pension contribution. The Seventh Pay Commission hike is the lowest in the history. It is substantially lower than the last Pay Commission-recommended pay hike. Though the employees and the government agreed on Dr Aykroyd formula to determine the minimum wage, the discrepancy is due to the arbitrary manner in which the Commission considered the prices.

The minimum wages are calculated by taking into account the nutritional requirement and the money needed to acquire it. But, the Commission has taken the price of rice as about Rs 26 while it is much higher in the market. Similarly, the Commission believed that the price of the pulses stand at Rs 97 per Kg while it is not less than Rs 160 in the market.

To fix the minimum wage at much lower level, the Pay Commission has taken the prices of the commodities covered by Dr Aykroyd formula at much below the market rates. This resulted in the reduction of multiplication factor from 3.7 to 2.57, which means much lower pay and allowances. The rate of increment is retained at the existing 3 per cent while the employees sought a 5 per cent increment.

The employees are fuming over this fraudulent arithmetic in arriving at the pay hike. The Pay Panel recommendations impact the wages of nearly one crore people in the country. The present pay hike accounts for only 0.7 per cent of the GDP. In fact, the increased incomes for the people would be ploughed back into the economy as consumption expenditure, thus triggering demand-induced growth. The standoff between the government and its employees does not augur well for the public administration. The Central government should renegotiate to address the discontent.

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