Rural wages double, industry wages up 63% in last 10 years
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Farm labourers have a reason to cheer as their average daily wages have more than doubled during the last decade due to short supplies while industrial workers have to be happy with 63% rise due to recent slowdown and as government failed to link their minimum wages to retail inflation rate.
Farm labourers also benefited from the linking of NREGA wages to consumer price inflation. The average daily wages for agricultural field labour for ploughing increased by 108% while it was up 117% for labourers used for harvesting during 2001-2011.
At the same period, increase in average wage for industrial workers covered under Annual Survey for Industries (ASI) has gone by only 62.6%. A harvesting job yielded a daily wage worker an average R117 till last year as against R 56 in 2001-02. For ploughing, the prevailing daily wages is around R108, rising from R 69 a decade ago. During the same period, the daily wages in the non-agriculture or industrial sector has gone up from R152 to R 247. In absolute terms, industrial wages may look more than farm wages, the cost of living in cities and places where industries are located are much higher. Though the government mandated minimum wages for factory workers is now a R115 per day, big companies offer a higher wage to their workers —both permanent and contract labourers. Wages are low in small and medium enterprises. Acknowledging that wages for the agricultural labour vary from state to sate, the agriculture ministry's assessment says "wage levels in the agricultural sector have increased considerably during recent years."
Since the launch of NREGA in February 2006, more than R1,00,000 crore has been spent on the wages under mega job guarantee scheme across the country. "NREGA has made a huge impact in increasing rural income, and through the programme, the government has made an attempt to share economic growth with the rural poor," P K Joshi, South Asian Director, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) told FE.
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