The minimum wage is at the bottom of the Ladder of the wage concept. The Employer must pay the minimum wage if he is to continue in the industry. In Killick Nixon Ltd. vis KAC Employees Union, 1957 II LLJ 53, the Supreme Court of India adopted the formula for minimum wage which included not only the bare physical necessities but also the conventional necessities or so to say not only the bare subsistence of life but also for the preservation of the efficiency of the worker. For this, it should provide for some measure of education, medical
requirements and amenities. In Express News Papers (P) Ltd. vis Union of India, 1961 I LLJ 339, while considering the statutory wage structure, the apex court observed that the minimum wage will have to be fixed irrespective of the capacity of the industry to pay. In Kamani Metals & Alloys Ltd. v/s their Workmen 1976 II LLJ 65 Supreme Court observed that in
any event the minimum wage must be paid irrespective of the profits, the financial condition or the availability of the workmen on lower wages.
Statutory Minimum Wage
The central legislative Assembly enacted the Minimum Wage* Act, 1948. It is an Act for fixing minimum rates of wages for certain employments. The minimum wage once Axed are to be revised at certain intervals so that it is in tune with the time.Different minimum wages for different localities and for different trades are decided under the Act.
This shows that since the statutory Minimum Wages Act does take into account the (act of prevailing cost of living, makes the Minimum Wages partly realistic and partly neutralistic because it takes into account the rise in prices of essential commodities at a given time in a given locality. Although the minimum wages Act was enacted with the lofty ideals of preventing exploitation of Labour, nevertheless. It is restricted to the employment in which labour is organised. But then this leads to the discussion of non-statutory minimum wages.
Non-statutory Minimum Wages
In Mmedabad Mill Owners Association v/s Textile Labour Association 1966 I LLJ 1, the apex court ruled that when the statute has not fixed the minimum wage, it can be fixed by the Industrial Tribunal. Whereas in Shiv-raj Fine Arts Utho Works v/s State I.C., 1978 LIC 828. the apex court ruled that the Tribunal may fix the minimum wage after taking into account various factors and that may turn out to be higher than the statutory minimum wages.
While in statutory minimum wages, a machinery is set up under the Act to fix and periodically revise the minimum wage in given locality in given trade or industry, in case of non-tatutory
minimum wage it is fixed in two ways.
1. By method of collective bargaining or
2. By industrial adjudication.
As a methodology, the wages of the lowest category of workers in a given unit or an industry are fixed and upon this, is fixed the scales of wages of other category of workers in higher up ranks.