Central govt withdraws order on compulsory wage payment

The central government has withdrawn its earlier order mandating businesses to pay wages to their workers even during the lockdown period, triggering criticism from trade unions.

On March 29, the Union Home Ministry had issued an order stating that all commercial and industrial establishments will have to pay wages or salaries to its workers even with their establishments remaining shut during the lockdown period.

The latest order issued by Home Secretary, Ajay Bhalla, on Sunday lists all guidelines which were issued earlier and that will continue to be in existence during Lockdown 4.0. However, it doesn’t mention payment of salaries.

“Whereas, save as otherwise provided in the guidelines annexed to this order (dated May 18), all orders issued by NEC (National Executive Committee headed by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla) under Section10(2)(I) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, shall cease to have effect from 18.05.2020,” the order said. This order has listed various instructions issued earlier, but not the March 29 order on wages.

Many business organisations had moved the Supreme Court challenging the order. On Friday, the apex court asked the government not to resort to any coercive action against private companies which have not paid their workers full wages during the lockdown in accordance with Union Home Ministry’s order.

Virjesh Upadhyay, general secretary of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, said that the new order amounts to complete injustice to workers. The BMS is an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

He said, “Ensuring livelihood and wages is the duty of government and during our agitation on May 20, we will add this issue to our agenda.”

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