Exorbitant Mathadi wages hit steel industry

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Jan 2018 10:06:02


Business Bureau,

THE astronomical wages of the Mathadi workers have severely affected the steel industry in Nagpur. Exorbitant wages of Mathadi workers, increasing cost of raw materials and other factors have resulted in closure of more than 60 per cent of the rolling mills. The steel manufacturers and traders are saying that the wages of Mathadi workers are the highest not only in the country but also higher than the UK.

“For the survival of the steel industry, wages of Mathadi workers have to be brought down to realistic levels,” said Advocate Amar Ramani, Consultant, while speaking at a press conference on Mathadi workers organised by the Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA), on Wednesday.

Ramani said that the Mathadi workers and their unions were opposing the move to bring the wages in accordance with the Minimum Wages Act fixed by the Government. They were threatening to stall the working of steel handling at railway sidings. A report of Mathadi Board on November 23, 2016 filed in the court would demonstrate as to how the rates were exorbitant. As per the report, a total 84 workers handled a rake of steel material of 2,709 metric tonnes. The average wage rate for handling steel material per tonne was Rs 268.84 (inclusive of levy) which resulted in payment of approximately Rs 7.28 lakh to Mathadi Board which later on was distributed to the workers. Each worker got a wage of Rs 8,670 per day for working 140 minutes at the railway siding, he pointed out.

Ramani said that the High Court, Nagpur Bench, took suo motu and cognisance of irregularities in the Mathadi system, by way of Public Interest Litigation (PIL), after it set right the similar sinister system prevailing in the FCI. The Lawyer for the Mathadi Board, had admitted in the Court, that wages were in the range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per month. The copy of the High Court order referring to such admission, dated August 16, 2017 was with the VIA, he said.

“It is well known that the entire working at the railway siding is fully mechanised with the use of crane and the Mathadi workers are not required to carry the load on their heads or shoulders. A visit to the railway siding will prove the same. It may be noted that this salary is for working for a couple of hours in a day and a few days in a month,” Ramani said. VIA had also appointed a professional cost accountant which showed that the wages should be in the range of Rs 0.70 paisa per tonne to a couple of rupees per tonne. While the rates fixed by the Mathadi Board were ranging from Rs 74 per tonne and Rs 128 per tonne, which were several hundred times more than the minimum wages.

The National Productivity Council, a Government of India organisation, has found that 8 to 20 workers are required to handle one rail rake for vacating the steel material, while the Mathadi Board is deputing 80 to 180 workers, each of whom work for 30 minutes to two hours in a day.

“The effect of such exorbitant wages has resulted in closing down of a huge number of units. Beyond 100 kilometres in Madhya Pradesh and other states, no Mathadi is applicable,” he added.

Present were K Rathi, Prafull Doshi, IPP, Dr Suhas Buddhe, Secretary of VIA and Pankaj Bakshi, Joint Secretary of VIA.