SHC reserves order in minimum wages case

Maqbool AhmedStaff Reporter

15th Sep, 2021. 07:02 pm
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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday reserved its order in several identical petitions challenging hike in minimum wages of unskilled workers in Sindh.

Employers Federation of Pakistan, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and others have challenged Sindh government’s notification increasing minimum wages of unskilled workers from Rs 17,500 to Rs 25,000 without making a reference to Sindh Minimum Wages Board (SMWB).

During the hearing it transpired that SMWB was working without a permanent chairman. The two-member bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, while taking notice of the matter directed the provincial government to appoint a permanent chairman without delay.

On Wednesday’s hearing, secretary labour department informed the bench that names for appointment of a permanent chairman had been sent to the concerned authority. He, however explained to the bench that no one was interested to be appointed the chairman.

Justice Panhwar, on hearing the excuse, warned the secretary that being a senior government functionary he should not have made such lame excuses.

“Issue a notification and if an officer declines, fire him from the services of provincial government,” directed Justice Panhwar.

Meanwhile, counsel for Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Khalid Javaid argued that government had no arbitrary powers to fix the minimum wages. He argued that currently the law mandates that the fixation of the minimum wages is done by the SMWB after taking input from entrepreneurs and trade unions representatives.

Javaid added that it would be impossible for industries to keep working with such high wages. He added that even though he was representing industrialist that does not mean that he is anti-labourer.

“Even those getting Rs 100,000 are not satisfied,” added the counsel.

Counsel for the Employers Federation of Pakistan argued that the provincial government could only accept the recommendations of SMWB or return the same for reconsideration. The provincial government cannot unilaterally fix the minimum wages, he added.

State counsel argued that fixing the wages is authority of the provincial government and it had to take care of labourers.

At this, the bench observed that in such a case the government should pay the additional amount from its resources.

Observing that despite courts efforts, representatives of entrepreneurs and trade unions could not agree on amount of minimum wages, therefore it would pass an order in this regard,. The bench reserved its order and shared that the verdict will be announced on a date fixed by the office of the court.

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