CHENNAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Hundreds of textile workers in India’s Tamil Nadu state have launched protests to demand that the first minimum wage increase in the southern state in more than 12 years is enforced
In July, the Madras High Court ordered a pay rise of up to 30% for hundreds of thousands of garment workers in Tamil Nadu, but appeals by manufacturers against the order have left workers in limbo, labour unionists said.n Under the 1948 Minimum Wages Act, state governments are required to increase the basic minimum wage every five years to protect workers against labour exploitation, but textile manufacturers have repeatedly challenged pay rises in Tamil Nadu. “The government must enforce the minimum wage notification,” said S Elizabeth Rani, general secretary of the Garment and Fashion Workers Union, in a statement. “Our wages have stagnated while the cost of living keeps increasing. Many of us are single parents and sole wage earners.” About 50 protesting workers were arrested near the port city of Chennai last week before being released without charge. Under the court ruling, workers would see their pay rise from a monthly average of 4,500 rupees to 6,500 rupees ($68 to $98) – which campaigners say is comparable to wages for textile jobs in most other states. But manufacturers in Tamil Nadu say the hike is too high, putting them at a disadvantage to competitors in other states.