Cheap labor is equivalent to minimum wage, and that is exactly the condition across the many different states in India. Being such a massive country, India has over 1200 different minimum wage rates with variances across states, skill level and the different industrial sectors. Here is a look at the wage rates in some of the different states in India to see how they differ across states and across different skill levels/job positions.
In West Bengal, minimum wage rates differ across industries as well as the level of skill they have to offer:
- Agriculture: 6430 – 7,783 INR/month ranging from unskilled to skilled labor. Agriculture is one of the lowest paying industries when it comes to minimum wage workers. Many of those involved usually earn a daily wage, and this already minimal sum is reduced if workers are provided with food on the job. An unskilled laborer will perform manual and basic jobs like threshing and weeding, whereas the skilled laborer is able to operate farming machinery.
- Bakery: 7,306 – 8,349 INR/month depending on the zone of operation. In the bakery industry, minimum wage rates apply only to unskilled laborers and are the same across all genders.
- Beverage Manufacturing & Supply: 7,307 – 10,104 INR/month depending on the skill level and the Zone of operation. Unskilled laborers may include sweepers, guards, and so on. Skilled laborers include those workers who operate the machinery and perform other similar functions.
- Automobile Repairs Workshops & Garages: 7,307 – 11,113 INR/month depending on the zone and the skill level (in this category skills range from unskilled to highly skilled). In this industry, an unskilled laborer are the ones who perform jobs like sweeping, guarding, etc. Highly skilled laborers include accountants and so on.
Overall, in West Bengal, the average minimum wage rate is around 7,000 – 8,000 INR/month. It is important to note, however, that the majority of these workers are daily wage earners.
The minimum wage rates in Tamil Nadu vary depending on the job title irrespective of the industry of operation:
- Accountant: 6,100 INR/Month
- Cashier: 7,015 INR/Month
- Watchman/Guard: 5,185 INR/Month
- Mechanic: 7,105 INR/Month
- Sweeper (Full Time): 5,185 INR/Month
- Factory Workers: 185 INR/Day
The average minimum wage rate is slightly lower than West Bengal, reaching around 5,500 INR/Month. By law, any worker whose salary has not been specified by the state will be entitled to a bare minimum wage rate of 185 INR/Day.
Wage rates are based on skill level as well as in the agricultural sector in this predominantly agricultural country.
- Unskilled Laborers: 9,178 INR/Month
- Semi-Skilled Laborers: 9,958 INR/Month
- Skilled Laborers: 10,855 INR/Month
- Highly Skilled Laborers: 11,887 INR/Month
- Agricultural Laborers: 325-361 INR/Month (depending on whether or not meals were provided)
The average minimum wage rates seem to be much higher than in the states we discussed previously. It is important to note that agricultural wage rates are higher by almost 100 INR in Punjab than in West Bengal.
The wage rates in Odisha are based on the skill level of the job across a range of industries:
- Unskilled Laborers: 280 INR/Day
- Semi-Skilled Laborers: 320 INR/Month
- Skilled Laborers: 370 INR/Month
- Highly Skilled Laborers: 430 INR/Month
These wage rates are consistent across all industries including agriculture, automobile repairs, bakeries, metal and wood industries, ceramic industry, pottery, cotton, jute, spinning, distilleries, brick, grain manufacture, and so on.
The average minimum wage rate is around 350 INR/Day where again, the minimum wage for agricultural workers, on average is lower than in Punjab and resembles the wage rate set in West Bengal.
The wage rates depend on the skill level of the hired labor:
- Unskilled Laborer: 189 INR/Day
- Semi-Skilled Laborer: 201 INR/Day
- Skilled Laborer: 212 INR/Day
- Highly Skilled Laborer: 235 INR/Day
Meghalaya shows some of the lowest minimum wage rates with an average of around 210 INR/Day. This applies to all the different industries and looking at the agricultural sector; the average minimum wage rate is the lowest among the states mentioned so far.
Wage rates are based on the job title, irrespective of the industry the laborer is working in:
- Gardener: 225 INR/Day
- Guard/Watchman: 225 INR/Day
- Lab Assistant: 248 INR/Day
- Head Electrician: 273 INR/Day
Many of the wage rates have been clustered. For instance, gardeners, guards, sweepers, packers, upholsterers, pump operators, cleaners and more, all fall into the 225 INR/Day bracket. The daily wage rate in Manipur appears to be on the lower side, but this may be due to the fact that wage rates have been clustered based on occupation rather than skill level.
So far, the mandated minimum wage has been somewhat successful in protecting casual and contract workers who previously received daily wages in only double digits and had no real job security. Furthermore, these fixed minimum wages are only meant for the formal sector and are inapplicable to those who are self-employed and those who work seasonally.
The aim of setting these minimum wage rates is to ensure labor protections in all aspects. This includes the provision of a safe working environment, being paid for overtime work and being protected from employer exploitation. Even so, it can be seen that even across different states within the same country, there is a disparity in the set minimum wage rates with some states setting a higher minimum level and others just scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Note: While some of the wage rates have been mentioned in monthly figures, the majority of workers who fall into the minimum wage earning category are daily wage laborers.