National Commission on Labour (1967)||
27.14 The Fair Wages Committee (1948) stated "where employment is on piece-rate or where the work done by men and women is demonstrably identical, no differentiation should be made between men and women workers regarding the wages payable. Where, however, women are employed on work exclusively done by them or where they are admittedly less efficient than men, the fair wages of women workers should be calculated on the basis of a smaller standard family than in the case of a man." Article 39(d) of the Constitution also suggests a move in the direction of equal pay for men and women for work of equal value. The progress in the implementation of this Directive Principle has been described in the words of the memorandum of the All India Women's Conference.1 The said memorandum has also made a reference to the progress in this direction even in the industrial sector. While stating fairly what had been achieved, it brought to our notice poignant cases of different wage rates fixed for men and women for the same type of work, though such differences, as there were, could not be accounted for fully on the basis of the amount of work involved. Other evidence which has been placed before us by the Government and employers' and workers' organisations corroborates the statement of the AIWC. Also, in the larger sectors where women are employed viz., agriculture and small industries, evidence shows that in fixing wage rates some State Governments have not been free from discrimination against women. By and large, therefore, we conclude that the position in this respect could have been more satisfactory. Our concern is all the greater, since those who suffer more, even among women as a group, are ignorant, unskilled and semi-skilled workers coming from communities which convention recognises as belonging to the lower social strata and for protecting whom Article 46 of the Constitution is presumably intended. In a way, women belonging to these communities are intended to be doubly protected (a) because they are the 'weaker section' and (b) because of the comparatively unfortunate communities to which they belong; and it is here that the protection is the least.
27.15 But even in this regard, we do not want to underrate
what is being achieved. While generally conceding that the wages of women workers have
been lower than those of men, the differences have tended to narrow down in recent years
mainly for two reasons:
(i) fixation of statutory minimum wages under the Minimum Wages Act and (ii) standardisation of wages for different jobs through the operation of the Industrial Relations Machinery.