KARACHI: Trade unions’ leaders and labour rights activists on Tuesday urged the provincial governments to announce the minimum wages for unskilled workers as no announcement was made in the budget in regard to the minimum wage.
Addressing a joint press conference, National Labour Council (NLC) Secretary Karamat Ali demanded to fix the minimum wage at Rs30,000 to 31,000 per month, considering the growing living cost and inflation rate.
Last year in July, the federal and provincial governments had fixed minimum wages at Rs15,000 per month.
Tracing the history of the minimum wage fixation, he said in 1969, minimum wages for unskilled workers were fixed at the rate of Rs140 per month, but the experts and economists were of the opinion that it was less or equal to 50 per cent of the actual wages required by workers to maintain a reasonable living.
“We demand that minimum wages be fixed on the scientific grounds and determined according to the rate of inflation and other factors of living a decent life by a worker’s family,” he said adding that every year the minimum wages be fixed according to that formula of indexation.
The provincial Minimum Wage Boards should announce the wages before this Eid to provide a relief to the poor workers, he urged. He said minimum wages are usually fixed by provincial Minimum Wage Board for the industrial workers, whereas no wages are fixed for other types of workers like agriculture workers and home based workers.
Like minimum wages, there should also be a limit of the maximum wages in Pakistan as it is already practised in many developed countries he said adding that internationally maximum wages are also announced to keep the gap between haves and have-nots at a limited level.
Karamat Ali pointed out that the federal cabinet has recently enhanced the salary of the President of Pakistan to Rs846,550 from his previous salary of Rs133,333 and a bill in this regard has already been presented in the National Assembly. This increase is more than double, he added while saying that this depicts the lack of parity among the two classes in the society.
He said that after the 18th Amendment labour subject has been devolved to the provinces but the federal government still intervenes in labour affairs.
For example, he said, the prime minister has recently announced the names of the official delegation, which is going to take part in the annual meeting of International Labour Organisation (ILO) without any consultation with the provinces.
Every year, members of a certain labour group are sent to ILO by the federal government, depriving provincial labour leadership of this opportunity, he concluded.