Monday, August 1, 2011

Gujarat Labour High in Number, Low on Wages

Gujarat EDN 30jul2011 Rajiv Shah | TNN

Gandhinagar: At a time when Gujarat government has been claiming from rooftops that the state's employment rate is the highest in India, the latest National Sample Survey (NSS) data should serve as a bolt from the blue for top state policy makers. NSS' "Key Indicators of Employment and Unemployment in India", put out in June 2011, suggest that while in labour participation rate Gujarat is indeed at the top, average wages offered to the labour force are among lowest.

Collected between June 2009 and June 2010, NSS data on labour rate participation show that, in Gujarat, a whopping 87.5 per cent of males in the agegroup 15-59 are economically active. While the all-India average is 83.6 per cent, most states, including economically more active ones, like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, show a much lower labour rate participation rate, which economists consider "as a measure of active portion of an economy's labour force".

Prof Biswaroop Das of the Institute of Social Studies, Surat, who has been studying the state of workers in the state for the last two decades, says, "Higher labour participation rate suggests the ability of Gujarat economy to attract higher number of workers, including migrants from other parts of India. One has only to see the composition of workers in Surat and Alang to understand this." However, he adds, "It does not indicate vibrancy, as a higher supply of labour force because of higher economic activity may have kept the wage market low."

Indeed, the NSS survey suggests that average wages per day in Gujarat for regular male employees are Rs 276.48 for males and Rs 213.10 for females. The national average — Rs 332.37 for males and Rs 253.02 for females (urban and rural areas combined) — is much higher than that of Gujarat. In fact, wages are higher even in Bihar, not to talk of Maharashtra or West Bengal. Things are no better for casual labour — in Gujarat average wages for casual workers are Rs 83.25 in rural and Rs 106.17 in urban areas.

Senior demographer Prof Ghanshyam Shah believes the trend "clearly suggests that while labour is available in Gujarat, there is no pressure on the employers through unions and associations to pay a higher wage rate." He adds, "There is also indifference on part of the state labour department to ensure higher wages. Over a period, labour office staff has been going down. And, one only has to see how the state government neglects its own labour department, even while promoting the industries department." Top state officials of the labour department brushed aside the NSS data, doubting its method of selecting the sample.


Post a Comment