ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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SOUTH- Fresh Confrontation

September 26, 1968 There must, be some satisfaction among newspaper managements at the predicament in which the Central government has found itself over the demands of its employees for a need- based minimum wage. With what face can the Centre insist that newspaper employers pay their employees higher wages when it cannot itself meet similar demands? Times of India pounced on the subject with apparent delight. It estimated that an increase of even Rs 5 in the monthly salary of Central government employees getting Rs 200 or less per month would push up the wage bill by Rs 17.5 crores a year and, if a similar pay hike was given to State government employees as well, the additional burden would be Rs 52 crores a year. "Apart from the inability of the Centre, the States and other official agencies to bear so heavy a burden'' the paper argued, "so large an increase in money incomes will release inflationary pressures making nonsense of all the efforts to play down (sic) prices." "What is worse" it added, "it will increase the wage disparities between government and nongovernment employees and lead to industrial unrest, In the circumstances all talk of a need-based minimum wage is an irrelevance." Having delivered itself of this bit of practical wisdom, the paper went on; "The Union Government's responsibility does not however end merely with the rejection of its employees' demand. The enormous wage bills several industries have been saddled with following wage board awards show that it has yet to take a total view of the question. Even in the case of concerns with a capacity to pay more, the anomalies of wage awards have exasperated both employers and employees. Among other things, they are apt to inhibit capital accumulation and retard future economic growth. The government has for too long looked at the wage demands piecemeal. The longer it postpones the task of evolving a national wage policy, the greater will be the danger of disrupting the national economy." No doubt, this concern for "a national wage policy" owes not a little to the increase in the wage bill of Times of India and the other bigger newspaper groups as a result of the recommendations of the wage boards.

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