New Delhi, September 1: Firing a fresh salvo at the Centre, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today alleged Lt Governor Najeeb Jung was “stalling” the clearance of minimum wages file “at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, who does not want it implemented in Delhi. “Our Cabinet cleared the proposal for the hike last month and it was sent to the LG a week later, but he is sitting on that file for the last 8 days. Our Labour Minister (Gopal Rai) has sought appointment with him to discuss it, but in vain,” Kejriwal said.Also Read - School Reopening News: When Will Normal Classes Resume in Delhi? Kejriwal Govt Expected to Take Final Decision by Tomorrow
The Delhi Cabinet had on April 17 approved upward revision of minimum wages by 50 per cent under which the minimum monthly wages for unskilled workers would go up to Rs 14,055 against the existing Rs 9,568. Addressing a well attended event–‘Shramik Samvad’ (dialogue with workers) at Talkatora Stadium of labourers, Delhi Transport Corporation drivers and conductors, sanitation workers and security personnel, the Delhi Chief Minister asserted that “his government won’t relent on this issue. And, if the Centre was hell bent on stopping us from implementing the norm, then we ware doubly determined to have it implemented.” Also Read - Kejriwal Govt Urges Centre to Confer Bharat Ratna on Environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna
“Friends, we came to power with your support. And, as promised, we have done our bit, but the LG is stalling it. And, as I have learned, Modiji has asked him to do so as he (PM) does not want the minimum wage norm to be implemented in Delhi,” he alleged. “So, now you all also have to fight this battle, and if you want your wages to be increased, then you should lodge your protest and ask the LG and the PM as to why is it not being implemented. You should rise and make Modiji feel that if this is not implemented he would not become PM in 2019. He doesn’t fear me but you, the masses (the voters),” Kejriwal said. Also Read - Delhi to Nominate Doctors, Health Workers For Padma Awards: CM Kejriwal
The AAP government today also claimed that if implemented Delhi’s minimum wages would be the highest given by any state government, but the “LG is not willing”. “I agree sir. Pl ask ur LG to clear minimum wage file pending wid him for many days,” Kejriwal also tweeted. The Delhi Chief Minister said his government has not only proposed a hike in wages but also suggested an increase in quantum of punishment for contractors who exploit workers by withholding wages. “The penalty has been proposed to be increased from Rs 600 to Rs 50,000, while a person can be jailed for three years, which is currently just six months,” he said.
“After hearing about these norms, we heard a group of big industrialists and power companies met Modiji and said if this wage norm is implemented, we will stop putting money in the elections,” Kejriwal alleged.
Kejriwal also said his government is trying to think about contractual workers and is working on framing policies for making them permanent. Kejriwal said he kept the promise he had made on hiking minimum wages in Delhi, but the final decision is in the hands of LG now. “Our government, after elections wants to put money in the hands of the poor and not in the pockets of ‘Ambanis and Adanis’. And, we have convinced city industrialists and traders, big and small that helping the poor would help the economy,” he said. Also, as per the proposal, the minimum wages for semi- skilled and skilled persons will increase from Rs 10,582 to Rs 15,471 and from Rs 11,622 to 17,033 respectively.
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Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia called labourers the “backbone of construction” and said, “AAP cam to power with their support”. He too hit out at the Lt Governor saying, they are selective about what “constitutes violation of Constitution and what doesn’t.” “Our chief minister talks of a policy that those security guards who do not get their due salary, fully or partially from their officers, then the money would be paid for, from his (officer’s) salary, now go get that file scrutinised, if you can,” Sisodia said, in a sarcastic tone.
“They are attacking us because, we have stopped the system of corruption that their predecessors were doing and which they have got used to,” he alleged. Labour Minister Gopal Rai also attacked Lt Governor, saying, “Our 600 files are stacked up in LG office. And, now there is a conspiracy to let those files decay.” He said, Delhi government will also have a 14-member minimum wage enforcement team in nine areas of the city. And, we will also run awareness campaigns on individual and industrial units and trader bases. “There are 50 vacancies for inspector posts in our department, and we hope these would also be filled soon, so that we can do our work efficiently,” he said.
A senior official, present at the function, said, “Soon, the government will be bringing out an online facility for applying for labour licences.”