Much to the relief of thousands of people who work as daily wage earners, the labour ministry has revised the daily wage by about 30 to 35 percent. The percentage when translated to actual cash will not be much given their already low wage, but they will still welcome the raise.
Even the most unskilled wage earner will now earn Nu 215 a day or Nu 5,590 a month excluding Sundays. It is not much from a salaried employee’s perspective, but the raise will ease the life of the thousands of people who are crucial in the labour market.
This group of people ensures that our roads are clear all the time, our drains are not clogged and the city is clean. Among them, the service of National Workforce that works with the roads department needs to be compensated well given that they work in harsh conditions. Officials are already experiencing difficulties in maintain a fit and capable workforce, as the young and able are looking for better opportunities in other fields. An attractive wage would draw them back and improve the capacity of the workforce.
The scope for the skilled workforce like blacksmith, painters and carpenters are better outside the government. There is a dearth of skilled labourers in the market and not recognising their services through fair wage would cost the government huge. A machine operator, for instance, in the private sector are sometimes paid Nu 800 a day. When there is a shortage, an operator is allowed to keep an hour’s wage of the machine hired as his wage. That is between Nu 800 to 1,200.
The national workforce is the worst affected from inflation. And this is worsened when the salary of the civil service and the public corporations are revised. There is a chain reaction for every revision and increased food price or house rent affects them the most.
An increase in the wage would enable the department of roads to carry out a lot of works in winter. If there are students willing to work and earn for the studies in winter, the dry weather allows work to progress except in the high altitude areas.
Most importantly, a better wage will ensure a stable workforce. This will also reverse the notion that the national workforce is underpaid and will urge more unemployed people into the blue-collar sector.
There are some apprehensions that revising the minimum daily wage would incur huge loss on the government. The overhead cost will increase substantially, but it is better to have a capable workforce and compensate them well than keep a group of desperate people for all times.
Besides, given the minimum base, we can surmise that the raise wouldn’t even match the money that we waste on, for instance, misuse of fuel, meaningless study tours and false daily and travel allowance claims that is believed to be rampant in the government.