India Wage Report

Effective wage policies can tackle inequality, poverty and achieve the 2030 Agenda

ILO India, Director, Dagmar Walter speaks at the launch of the India Wage Report.

Statement | New Delhi, India | 20 August 2018
Joint Secretary Mr Manish Gupta, government officials, trade union and employer representatives from India and other countries in Asia – Pacific, experts from the academia, colleagues, dear friends.

It is indeed a pleasure to be here at the launch of the India Wage Report: Wage Policies for decent work and inclusive growth". This week we are glad to have among us our constituents from India and other countries in Asia — who will also be participating in the international training course on wage policies, which starts today after the report launch and is organized with the ILO International Training Centre, Turin, Italy, and VV Giri National Labour Institute, India.

Let me also take this opportunity to recognize the origins of this report. Back in 2015, the Ministry of Labour and Employment requested us to prepare a wage report dedicated to India. We held a training event in that year for constituents. Over the subsequent period, we have worked closely with the ministry, social partners and key academics. In particular, I would like to thank the ministry and social partners for their inputs in the national and regional workshop. I would also like to recognize the seminal role of late Prof. T. S. Papola, one of the leading labour economists of this country, and Prof. K.P. Kannan in preparing critical inputs for the report.

We sincerely hope that the India Wage Report will act as an important input for policy formulation and dialogue on wages in this country and beyond. The use of research and evidence-based information on wages help us grasp the different dimensions of the labour market and also view how strong policies work as decisive instruments to promote the decent work and inclusive growth agenda.

Across the room, we all have many valuable insights to share on the world of work. We know that wages play a crucial role in promoting good working conditions.

In Asia, most of the emerging economies have shown resilient growth over the last decades. This has led to an increase in real wages, albeit at a slower pace, resulting in an increase in income inequality.

In the region, many workers continue to live in abject poverty, informality is all pervasive, youth unemployment is persistently high, women do not enjoy equal opportunities in the labour market and the gender pay gap continues to remain wide.

At the heart of the global 2030 Agenda is: “leave no one behind.” Economic growth is meant to contribute to a better and fairer world, but for this to happen we have to work aggressively on inclusion. The Sustainable Development Goals have decent work for all women and men as a key objective, including reducing inequality through the use of fiscal and wage policies.

Adopted at the 16th ILO Asia and Pacific Regional Meeting in 2016 — The Bali Declaration sets policy priorities for its tripartite members, on pursuing collective bargaining as a wage-fixing mechanism, building a minimum wage floor through social dialogue; and sharing information on productivity increases. These actions can possibly reverse the widening inequalities and the incidence of low-paid work in the region.

The ILO is committed to promote wage policies that ensure we share fruits of economic progress equitably for a sustainable society. The ILO encourages countries and constituents to undertake extensive research and come up with concrete facts so as to strengthen existing wage policies, taking into account a balanced approach between the needs of workers and the families, and the promotion of sustainable enterprises. At the global level, the ILO publishes its recurrent flagship Global Wage Report, which provides an authoritative source of information on current wage trends and policies. The most recent covering 2016/17.

In India, ILO has been advocating the need for relevant information gathering and research to support effective wage policies that then go on to tackle social injustice issues within the labour market. We have been consistently publishing information on wages – with a working paper on wage trends that has also informed the contents of this report. We believe the report being launched today is comprehensive and clearly highlights the structure of wages in India, maps the various trends, the wage differences for various types of workers. Most importantly, this report charts the evolution of wage policies in India and what needs to be done going forward.

Being the fruit of a collaborative effort, I extend my thanks and congratulations to each and every one who has worked on this report.

We shall now learn more about its findings and I look forward to hearing from you in the discussion, sharing your valuable knowledge and comments on how we can work together in the region on wages, and inclusive growth.

Thank you for your attention.