Workers at the receiving end of high inflation and fewer opportunities
According to ASI (Annual survey of Industries), there were approximately 9.2 million workers employed in factories in 2009 – 10. Almost 1/3 rd of these workers were employed in the rural segment and the rest in urban and semi-urban areas. The factories that were covered by ASI were registered under Sections 2m(i) & 2m(ii) of the Factories Act, 1948. Under this act, all factories will be covered that employ 10 or more workers and which utilize power & factories that employ 20 or more workers and which do not utilize power. This encompasses the manufacturing sector and service segments like waste collection, treatment and disposal, publishing etc…
Booming economy vs Waning wages
Indian economy has withstood a major part of the global financial upheaval (still a long way to go) in spite of the gross incompetency of our decision makers – The major share of credit goes to the unsung labor class. A very miniscule rise in the annual wages was seen between 2001 to 2010 – Rs. 46,054 to Rs. 75,277 respectively. The graph of these annual worker wages lefts much to be desired if it is compared to the salary growth of white and blue collar workers – not to talk of the astronomical rise in the wages of the India Inc. CEOs.
That is a classic national compensation syndrome for the developing world…
Rob Poor Peter to pay Rich Paul…..In sharp contrast to the developed nations where the manual jobs are the most highly paid.
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Even the average worker wages are not an actual indicator of the ground reality. There is a huge disparity between the annual wages of workers in various industry segments.
- Tobacco factory workers have the lowest annual wages : Rs. 25,415 / annum
- The coke and refined petrochemical sectors are the highest paymasters: Rs. 186,635 / annum
- The 8 sectors which pay their workers more than a lakh as annual wages are: Coke & refined petroleum products, repair and installation of machinery and equipments, publishing activities, automotive sector, trailers & semi-trailers, Transportation and metal industry
What lies ahead?
There is nothing beyond just the wages for the backbone of the Indian economy – pension, medical benefits, insurance? Well these are the de-facto employment rights for the collared workers – legacy of an employment system put in place by the British Raj. The enslaved manual labor have just witnessed a couple of changes since 1947. One of them is the change of guards – from a ‘White Master’ to a ‘Brown Sahib’.
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Some of the most fortunate workers are those who have been employed by the ruling class (bureaucrats, politicians and those running the show for the politicians). These workers are ensured an employment till their last days and after them their children and grand children will continue to serve the grandchildren of their Sahibs. This is the best pension fund that a worker in the modern India can dream of. The rest of the working class lives and dies a life of anonymity – bereft of all the basic dignities of a normal Indian citizen. We sure can talk about Mukesh Ambani’s Antilla and Vijay Mallya’ fleet of private planes parties – and boast of our GDP growth and the relentless surge of Indian economy.
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With four square meals a luxury for a worker’s family, the days and nights are squeezed into one endless struggle for a better life – The same story has continued for generations. Every night the best brains from politics and industry will fight it out to prove their party or theory is the best thing to happen to this country – and go back to their cozy habitats. The Indian workers will continue to slog it out to give the Indian economy the well deserved global edge!