Sunday, October 09, 2011

Why I support the auto-wallas this time

Auto-rickshaw drivers deserve to live in clean surroundings; they deserve to eat fruit; their children deserve to go to good schools. And it is true that for this to happen in Mumbai, a household needs at least Rs 25,000 a month. So, now that one of the auto unions is demanding that much money, I understand. I even kind of endorse their demands.

... If autorickshaw drivers win this battle, domestic workers, motor mechanics, balloon-sellers, writers (do I hear a hundred Amens?) will follow. Why shouldn’t a truck driver make Rs 25,000? Why not a teenaged girl who sews tinsels on dupattas?

What I find interesting is that even the state seems to value drivers above other kinds of workers., a website with information about current wage rates, has published data from various states. It shows Indians who drive ‘public motor vehicles’ are entitled to more money than those who build roads. Which is strange, isn’t it?

In Maharashtra, the minimum wage for a driver (included under ‘Public motor transport’, I’m guessing) is around Rs 7,000 (rounding off figures). This places them a bit above film production workers. Also above attorneys, barbers, bakers, weavers, typists, carpenters, security guards, and those who work with chemicals, or in saw mills. Unskilled hospital workers (who are exposed to serious health risks) are entitled to only about Rs 5,000.

As for farm workers, they were guaranteed Rs 120 per working day (in 2009), or a monthly salary of Rs 3,120. And I wondered who decides these things. Why should a bus driver make more money than a farm worker?

In any case, I’m sure farmers wouldn’t mind getting a pension, same as autorickshaw drivers. I certainly wouldn’t mind one.

Read full piece here

1 comment:

Balkrishna said...

In a free market, the wages are decided by market forces - supply and demand. It's not a philosophical question.

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