Yangchen C Rinzin

While the salary revisions of civil servants and state owned enterprises are already in place, it is unlikely that the national minimum wage rate (NMWR) revision would come anytime soon.

The labour ministry is yet to form a national minimum wage committee for the revision, a requirement as per the regulation on national minimum wage.

Labour and human resources minister Ugyen Dorji said that it is still exploring to form a committee and once formed it would be required to look into all aspects of the revision.

The committee will also look into inflation, cost of living, gross domestic product among others and submit recommendations to the ministry based on which the national minimum wage would be revised.

In August, the minister had said that the groundwork for revision of the NMWR had begun and that the concept paper has already been submitted to the ministry.

“We’re still reviewing the concept paper and is almost in an advanced stage,” Lyonpo said. “There are so many things that need to be looked into, take adequate time, analyse, discuss before we approve the revision.”

The government had pledged to increase the NMWR to Nu 450 in keeping with its goal of narrowing the gap. The government’s manifesto also states it would keep track of inflation, cost of living, gross domestic product and revise the rates accordingly.

Wage rate revision is expected to benefit people working in the private sector, especially those who are paid only nominal wages.

Lyonpo said once the wage rate is increased, it will depend on the employers if they want to implement the increased wage rate. “If a private company is already paying more than the revised wage rate, they may not follow the revised rate since it is just a minimum wage one should pay.”

Lyonpo said. “But it is also because the revision is long overdue and should be revised periodically every five years.”

He said the ministry is also working with the World Bank to seek expertise’ advice and take cautious effort towards revising the wage rate.

Classified into five categories, the wage rate revision is based on various skills in line with the Wage Rate Act 1994. The last wage revision was by about 30 to 35 percent in September 1, 2015.

Today, category I workers—auto mechanic and carpenter— get Nu 324 a day while category II workers like supervisors, metalsmith and plant operator get Nu 286 a day. Auto electricians, plumbers and linemen are paid Nu 254 a day under category III. Sweepers, wiremen and sawyers, who fall in category IV, get Nu 234 a day.

Unskilled national work force are paid Nu 215 a day.