Hoteliers say no to food allowance deductions for minimum wages

 

Hoteliers and restaurant owners are seeking for an increase in the amount deductible as food allowance for computing minimum wages, before agreeing to the new minimum wage bill proposed by the government.
 
Several restaurateurs and members of the tourism and hospitality sector, when contacted by The Navhind Times said that they are not against paying more salaries to their workforce and do not mind shelling up 36 per cent more to their employers as per the new minimum wages standards.
 
However, their objection is to the deductions for food allowance as the actual outgo on free food given to staff, while on duty, "is much higher." President of Hotels and Restaurants Association of Goa, Mr Gaurish Dhond, said that almost everybody in the industry gives "free tea, breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with "free of charge" accommodation to their workers.
 
The burden on the hotelier, per employee, he added is "expensive" looking at the rising cost of food grains and essentials. Thus hoteliers are going to ask for a hike in the deduction amount to "at least `800 per month", Mr Dhond said, before the deadline to objection to the draft notification expires. The deduction on food as per the draft notification is `520, `494 and `464 per month, in Zone A, Zone B and Zone C respectively.
 
Mr C P Jaggi, president, South Goa Hoteliers’ and Restaurant Association, pointed out that the minimum wages are used for calculating the PF and the ESI contribution of the employers, and having just `520 permissible as deduction for food was not fair since the actual expenses on lodging and eating of staff came up to about
`1,000-`1,200 per month.
 
Several hoteliers cited acute shortage of man power in the hospitality sector wherein the current salary of a cook is `13,000 per month, vis-à-vis `6,100 per month proposed by the government for a ‘Zone A’ category hotel.’ Similarly a sweeper in a Panaji hotel is paid "not less than `6,500 per month" as against the salary of `5,408 per month as per the new minimum wage bill. Therefore giving consent to the new minimum wages was not "an issue"
hoteliers explained.
 
As such hotels and restaurants have decided to join hands with all industry in Goa, for putting forward their objections to the draft notification on minimum wages announced by government on October 25. Their protests have been forwarded to the GCCI which is going to approach the labour secretary. [NT]