The term ‘wage board’ covers:
(1) A voluntary negotiating body set up by discussions between organised employers and workers to regulate wages, working hours and related conditions of employment by collective bargaining, and
(2) A body set up by law or with legal authority to establish minimum wages and other standards of employment which are then legally enforceable in the particular trade or industry to which the board’s decision relate.
The concept of wage board was first enunciated by the fair wages committee. It was commended by the first five-year plan.
The second five-year plan also considered the wage board to be “ a more acceptable machinery for settling wage disputes”, a machinery “ which gives to parties themselves a more responsible role in reaching rescissions.” the fifteenth session of Indian labour conference reiterated that wage boards should be the appropriate machinery for the fixation of wage rates.
Since their inception in 1957, wage boards were appointed for the following industries/employments:
(1) cotton textiles,
(5) tea plantations,
(6) rubber plantations,
(7) coffee plantations,
(8) iron and steel,
(9) iron ore mines,
(10) coal mines.
(11) limestone and dolomite mines,
(12) working journalists,
(14) cotton textile (second),
(15) cement (second),
(16) ports and docks,
( 18) heavy chemicals and fertilizers,
(19) sugar (second),
(20) leather and leather goods,
(21) electricity undertakings,
(22) road transport, and
(23) working journalists (second).
A wage board is tripartite character. It consists of an equal number of representatives of employers and workers with an independent chairman. In addition, an economist and a consumer’s representative, both independent, are nominated to the board. The total number of members on a wage board including the chairman has varied form seven to nine.
Representatives of employers and workers on the board are appointed by the government after consulting the concerned organisations in the industry. The government nominates the chairman and the independent members.
In evolving a wage structure, a wage board according to its terms of reference is required to take into account in addition to the considerations relating to fair wage. (i) the needs of the industry in a developing economy’s differentials in such a manner as to provide incentives to workers for advancing their skill. Majority of the wage boards examined the question of need based minimum wage and concluded that it was not feasible to implement the norms approved at the 15th session of ILC because of one or more of the following reasons; (a) it would be beyond the capacity and the industry in the to pay (b) it would unduly affect the relativity of wages among industries in the same region. (c) it would result in excessive and abrupt increase in wages and (d) it would be extravagant at the cost of the consumer on whom the burden of increased wages and salaries would fall.