Coonoor: United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) appealed to the Centre to exercise its power over revision of minimum wages by states, demanding removal of plantations from the schedule of the Minimum Wages Act (MWA).
“Though the Centre has the power under Central Plantations Act to regulate working conditions including wages of plantation sector, this power was now exercised by the State Governments as appropriate governments, under the MWA,” said UPASI President D P Maheshwari.
In his address to the 115th Annual Conference of the Association, he said that it was a matter of grave concern to the industry that State governments have closed their eyes to the vast changes that have taken place in the plantation labour scene in the past 60 years.
“Tamil Nadu, by a notification, has revised the minimum wages to meet the demand of the local MLA for a wage of Rs100 plus, instead of following the logical and time-tested practice of subjecting the dispute to statutory conciliation,” Maheshwari alleged.
“The Centre should exercise a degree of control and achieve a modicum of uniformity of approach over the revision of minimum wages by the States by giving directions as provided for it in the Act,” Maheswari said.
“The Centre should advise the State governments concerned to take into account the special characteristics of plantations, their agricultural orientation and status as a nationally important export industry in the matter of fixing minimum wages,” he said.
Maheswari further requested the Centre to convene a meeting of the Governments of the plantation states to discuss the issue and evolve a consensus.