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Published On: Mon, Nov 28th, 2016

Wages Panel Chief Janardhan Reddy resigns to save Union Minister Job

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bl02_04_bandaru_2392222fNEW DELHI : In a move shrouded in mystery a newly appointed Chairperson of the Central Advisory Board on Minimum Wages, a small time BJP leader of Telangana B. Janardhan Reddy, chose to resign from his post on Thursday afternoon.

A matter of fact gazette notification by a Deputy Director General rank officer D. Chaudhari in the Ministry Labour on the evening of Thursday said, “—In pursuance of the powers conferred by rule 8 of the Minimum Wages (Central) Rules, 1950, it is hereby published for information of the public that the Central Government has accepted the resignation of Shri B. Janardhan Reddy..”

: The principal notification was published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part II, Section 3, Sub-section (ii)vide S.O. 3495(E), dated the 18th November, 2016.

Is it a coincidence he put in his papers on the same day his son Jignesh Reddy got married to Viaya Lakshmi, daughter of the Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya. The announcement on appointment of Mr. Reddy as Chairperson of the Board was notified through e-gazette on the night of November 21. The Board functions under the jurisdiction of the Union Labour Ministry of which Mr. Dattatraya is the Minister in-charge.

According to a close friend of Mr. Reddy, who did not wish to be identified, families of Mr. Janardhan Reddy and Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya have been friends for over a decade and this appointment should not be seen a Union Minister recommending his daughter’s father-in-law but a BJP functionary.

“The marriage was not on cards when his name was suggested nine months ago. In fact, the marriage was fixed a couple of months ago only.” Actually few even within the BJP circles in Telangana circles were aware of the appointment.

Once it became public knowledge there were whispers that the job went to Mr. Reddy not due to his competency or eligibilty but due to his close relation to the Union Minister for Employment,

Family friends of Mr. Reddy insisted on condition of anonymity that Mr. Reddy resigned two days after his appointment letter was out as he thought it was `unethical’ to accept the post being a relative of the Union Minister, more so in the present political situation when the opposition is out to embarrass the Government on any issue.

They maintained, “He has resigned few days after the appointment orders were out as he didn’t want to embarrass the affable Minister.” There was no way he could have resigned a few days as the appointment itself was notified on the night of November 22. It is possible that either the advice to Mr. Reddy or the Minister seeking the resignation went either from the PMO or some senior functionary in the BJP.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Hyderabad on Friday to speak at the three-day DGP conference. Inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Mr. Modi spoke on various issues of relevance to Director Generals of Police across the country. The appointment of a new Chairman to the re-constituted the Central Advisory Board on Minimum

Wages was significant particularly after the Supreme Court in the last week of October gave a ruling that brought relief to lakhs of contractual employees working in government departments and agencies.

A bench headed by Justice JS Khehar based its judgment on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. The rule, it said, constitutes a clear and unambiguous right vested in every employee — whether engaged on regular or temporary basis. The principle has been underscored in various judgments rendered by the SC and is law of the land, it said.

“Any one, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage, does not do so voluntarily. He does so, to provide food and shelter to his family, at the cost of his self respect and dignity, at the cost of his self worth, and at the cost of his integrity. For he knows, that his dependents would suffer immensely, if he does not accept the lesser wage,” read the verdict that came on petitions filed by temporary workers of the Punjab government.

The employees moved the SC after the Punjab and Haryana high court denied them the pay-scale entitled to a permanent employee. The Board’s job involves advising the Central and State Governments in the matters of the fixation and revision of minimum rates of wages and other matters under this Act and for co-coordinating the work of the Advisory Boards the Central Government shall appoint a Central Advisory Board.

The Central Advisory Board consists of persons to be nominated by the Central Government representing employers and employees in the scheduled employments who shall be equal in number and independent persons not exceeding one-third of its total number of members. It is against this backdrop that the choice of the Modi Government in going for a professional from Hyderabad is curious.

Partly the haze on the minimum front is the making of the present government. In April this year, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya announced that the government will raise the minimum wage for contract workers to Rs.10,000 per month. It would do so, he said, through an executive order. The executive order never came. What did, however, were news reports on industry’s opposition to the proposal. In July, the proposal had been shelved.

In a bid to get trade unions to call off their All India strike on September 2, the government >again announced a hike in minimum wages, but only for unskilled non-agricultural workers, from Rs.246 to Rs.350 per day, or Rs.9,100 per month. The central trade unions, barring the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), had dismissed the hike as meaningless.

There is no clarity from the November 18 notification by the Ministry of Labour on how exactly the newly constituted Minimum Wages Board has to about its job after the recent apex court verdict.

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