The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

EFC raises concerns with Minister of Labour on minimum wage revision process


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) has raised concerns with Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge on the manner in which the minimum wages are revised in respect of Wages Boards trades.“The EFC has very categorically stated that the minimum wage fixation process is clearly outlined in the Wages Boards Ordinance, and what is highlighted as a concern is not in relation to the law as it stands but the manner in which the process is implemented,” it said in a media statement.

Private sector wage fixation is regulated by Wages Boards set up under the Wages Boards Ordinance. These are tripartite Wages Boards with representatives of Employers, Workers and members nominated by the Minister of Labour. In terms of section 27 of the Wages Boards Ordinance, each Wages Board is under a duty to determine different rates of minimum wages, taking into account the circumstances that prevail in the different industries for which Wages Boards have been set up. Therefore, every Wages Board member has a responsibility to be aware of what is happening in each of the industries and set a floor level for minimum wages, taking into account the affordability of even the smallest employer in the industry, the EFC said.

The EFC has recommended that the Commissioner General of Labour, who is the Chairman of each Wages Board, must give proper direction to all members of the Wages Boards in terms of their responsibility and, more importantly, have facts and figures in relation to what is happening in the industry.

Members of the Wages Boards must be made aware of the realities that are prevalent in different industries. For example, in the apparel industry, over and above the basic wage employers pay various types of bonuses in the nature of profit bonus, production bonus etc to increase efficiency and productivity. Therefore, it must be understood that the “minimum wage” that the Wages Board prescribes is not the actual wage that comes into the hand of the worker but it is something much more than that, it said.

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