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KARACHI: Industrial organizations have filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) to challenge the provincial government’s move of increasing the minimum wages for workers to Rs25,000 from Rs17,000 a month.

The petition came from Karachi Chamber Of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMA) and SITE Association of Industry (SAI). It maintained that the Sindh government did not consult with them before scaling up the minimum wages for industrial workers.

The organizations in a joint statement said that the Sindh government’s wages increase is “in non-compliance of the due process of law prescribed in the Minimum Wages Act 2015, without consulting stakeholders”.

It said that the Sindh government has not published impugned notification in the Gazette.

“Previously the Sindh Minimum Wages Board upon reference made to it by the Sindh Government as per section 4(1) of Sindh Minimum Wages Act 2015 recommended minimum wages of Rs19,000 in the meeting held on 22-04-2021,” the joint statement said.

The recommendations of Rs19,000 a month, which the Minimum Wages Board proposed in line with the section 4 of the Sindh Minimum Wages Act 2015 published in Gazette, as required under the Act for information of those persons likely to be affected by it, it said.

However, a notification of the Sindh Minimum Wages Board approving Rs19,000 was not issued, instead the Sindh government announced minimum wages of Rs25,000 a month, which the joint statement called “contrary” to the decision of the board.

“The clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section of 6 of Minimum Wage Act 2015 says upon receipt of recommendation of the Board under Section 4 or Section 5, Government may - (a) by notification in the Official Gazette, declare that the minimum rates of wages recommended by the Board for the various workers shall, subject to such exceptions as may be specified in the notification, be the minimum rates of wages, for such workers,” it said. Thus, it dubbed, the impugned un-Gazetted notification of Rs25,000 “invalid’.

The Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) has also endorsed the point of view of its affiliated trade organizations.

The SHC heard and the petition and ordered the Secretaries of Labour and Human Resource Department and Minimum Wages Board of Sindh to submit their replies in three weeks time.

The nominees of Sindh Minimum Wages Board were also present in the court during the hearing held on August 6, 2021. The matter of fixation of Rs25,000 as a minimum wage is sub-judice and pending before the Sindh High Court, it said.

The increase in the minimum wages to Rs25000 has left KCCI, PHMA and SAI disturbed, according to the joint statement.

The wages rise, it said, has deprived the industries in Sindh of level playing field not locally but also globally making them uncompetitive and unviable to operate because of “exorbitant’ upshot in the cost of manufacturing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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