Government Order revising minimum wages in respect of tailoring trade, upheld

Madras High Court: While deciding an appeal regarding the revision of minimum wages fixed in respect of tailoring trade in export garments, manufacturing industry, hosiery industry, etc, the Division Bench of Huluvadi Ramesh and M.V. Muralidaran, JJ., allowing the appeal by the State Government, directed the textile companies to comply with the Government Order (2D) No.59, Labour & Employment (J1) Department dated 10.10.2014 and pay the minimum wages along with the arrears to the workers in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the Government Order.

The present appeal was filed by the State against the interim order passed by the Single Judge bench of this Court, whereby the aforementioned Government Order was stayed. The Appeal was clubbed along with the petitions filed by several textile companies who were challenging the said Government Order. R. Krishnamurthy, representing some of the petitioners, contended that the State Government acted in arbitrary manner by not following the proviso of Section 5 (2) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1940, which casts a duty on the Government to forward the proposal for revision of wages along with representations received, to the Board for its advice and after consultation with the Advisory Board, the Government shall take steps for revision of wages. Advocate General A.L.Somayaji appearing for the State submitted that the Minimum Wages Act is a social welfare legislation enacted with the object of providing sustenance and maintenance of the workers and his family and preserving the efficiency of the worker. The Act provides for revision of wages every five years therefore the Government took steps to revise the minimum rates of wages.

Perusing the contentions and facts of the case, the Court observed that the Government duly followed the procedure laid down in Section 5 (1) (b) of the Minimum Wages Act, and the petitioners had due notice of the fact that their representations have been sought on the matter of revision of wages. The Court further pointed out that revision of wages by 64% is not unreasonable, as the facts prove that since 2004 till 2012, wages have not been revised and in that context the revision had been made at the rate of 8% every year, based on the data available with the Government and in consultation with the Advisory Board by following the procedure prescribed under Section 5 (1) (b) of the Act. The Court however gave liberty to the companies to approach the Government highlighting their issues regarding revision of wages whenever a revision will be contemplated in future. [State of Tamil Nadu v. Sri Renga Apparels (India) Pvt. Ltd, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 6275, decided on 13.07.2016]


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