Union Labour Ministry has decided to revise the wage calculation for India’s workforce. The Ministry, in its latest computations, has decided to change the base year of the Consumer Price Index for Agriculture Labourers and Rural Workers (CPI-AL&RW) to 2019. At present the base year is 1986-87.

According to a senior Labour Ministry official, the decision will help workers as their wages will likely increase.

The MGNREGA wages may also be revised based on the new base year.

The Centre had earlier revised the base year for Consumer Price Index (Industrial Workers) from 2001 to 2016. The Ministry has also decided to change the base year for Wage Rate Index from 1963 to 2016 so that the floor minimum wages for workers in various segments can be recalculated. The Rural Development Ministry is learnt to have been urging the Union Labour Ministry to change the base year.

‘Will announce soon’

The Labour Ministry official told BusinessLine that the change in the base years of CPI-AL&RW and Wage Rate Index will be announced in November. “It took almost six years for the Ministry and the Labour Bureau to change the base year,” the official added. The CPI-AL&RW is calculated based on the consumption expenditure data collected during the National Sample Survey’s 38th round of Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted in 1983.

It has defined rural labour household as “one which derives its major income during the last 365 days from wage paid manual employment (rural labour), vis-à-vis wage paid non-manual employment as also self-employment”.

‘Look at consumption’

Unions, however, have asked the Centre to look at the consumption pattern in a realistic manner.

“The Centre will have to also consider the rise in the prices of essential food items when revising the base year. The Centre wants to hide the truth that half of the agriculture labourers who was having two meals a day is having one meal a day now and 37 per cent of the agriculture workers cannot live without even one day’s work,” said All India Agiculture Workers Union leader Suneet Chopra. Chopra said his union has been demanding that the calculation of wages must be based on the consumption of at least 2,200 calories per day.

“The Centre is not taking into account even 1,000 calories. India got the largest number of hungry people in the world. It is the country with the largest public stocks of foodgrains, which it is not giving to them. The Centre is hiding the consumption figures,” he alleged.