SHC questions provincial govt unilaterally fixing minimum wages

Maqbool AhmedStaff Reporter

02nd Sep, 2021. 08:07 pm
International labour day

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court observed on Thursday that it appeared that the provincial government had not taken into account the recommendations of Sindh Minimum Wages Board (SMWB) before raising the minimum wages for unskilled workers in Sindh from Rs17,500 to Rs25,000.

The observation was made by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar of the two-member bench while hearing various petitions for and against fixation of minimum wage for unskilled workers in the province.

Arguing the case of petitioner, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP), which had challenged 43 per cent raise in the minimum wages, Khalid Mehmood advocate submitted that the provincial government did not fulfill its statutory requirement before issuing the notification for the increment.

He submitted that EFP had earlier raised objections against the recommendations of the Sindh Minimum Wages Board on various legal and factual grounds but were not invited in the board meeting to decide the minimum wages.

He stated that the EFP after consultation with the members had informed the government that they agreed to increase the minimum wage from Rs17,500 to Rs19,000 per month. But instead of considering the employers’ offer, the Sindh government issued an impugned notification by fixing the minimum wage of Rs25,000 per month for unskilled workers, the counsel for the petitioner argued.

He further submitted that secretary labour had also not sent proposal for fixing minimum wage of Rs25,000 to the SMWB.

He stated that 43 per cent increase in minimum wage was irrational and without any legal consideration, as it would have consequential effects in terms of variable cost on account of allowances, leave bonuses and gratuity etc.

The court observed that how could the government itself fix the minimum wages without sending a proposal to the SMWB.

The court further observed that the provincial government would have the option of disagreeing with SMWB, had it rejected the government’s proposal.

After partly hearing the arguments on petition, the court deferred further hearing till September 7.

The petitioners had pleaded the court to declare the impugned notification of increment as unlawful and requested to suspend the implementation of notification till the decision of the petitions.

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