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Apex Chamber of Industry and Commerce of NCT, Delhi Challenges Government Notification for hike in Minimum Wages.

The Delhi Government, by a notification dated 3rd March, 2017, cleared a significant 37% hike in minimum wages of workers in the State. An unskilled labourer will now be entitled to a minimum wage per month of Rs. 13,350/- from the earlier Rs. 9,724/-. Likewise, the minimum wage per month for semi-skilled workers would go up from Rs. 10,764/- to Rs. 14,698/- and from Rs. 11,830/- to Rs. 16,182/- for skilled labourers. The sole objective of the Government behind the scheme is to provide financial security to the impoverished, thus increasing their purchasing power, which in turn would stimulate growth in the trade and industry.

Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the representative body for free industries in Delhi. It aims to facilitate the common interests of trade and industry for its members thereby creating a constructive trade and industrial relationship, competitive, transparent, free and fair environment for its members. The Apex Chamber in a letter to Lieutenant Governor opposed the figures proposed in the said order by Delhi Government.

While fixing the rate of minimum wages, the fundamental components that are taken into account include food, clothing, house, light, fuel and education. The Seventh Pay Commission has laid down 2700 calories per day for a workman who performs moderate activities. The representative body for trade and industry has stated that the minimum calorific value taken into consideration while calculating minimum wages was 3447 calories, which is much higher that the value fixed by the Seventh Pay Commission. It is also argued by the representative body that the legislative scheme under Section 9 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 has been completely violated in as much as it requires equal number of representation of employers and employees as well as independent persons not exceeding 1/3rd of its total members. In W.P. (C) 12088/2016, before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, in the matter of Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of NCT Delhi v LT. Governor of Delhi, a bench comprising of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal has passed an interim order stating that no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner therein, pursuant to the Notification dated 3.03.2017 by the Delhi Government until further orders.

The bench is yet to decide the matter filed by the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the matter is listed before the Delhi High Court for 11th September, 2017. In the interim period, no coercive steps shall be taken as per the Court order dated 7th March, 2017.

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