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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan granted two months time to the Sindh provincial government to review the Wage Board’s recommendation regarding the minimum wage of Rs19,000 per month.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Wednesday, heard various petitions against the Sindh High Court (SHC)’s judgement on the minimum rates of wages Rs25,000 per month for unskilled adult and juvenile workers.

The Sindh government on July 19, 2021 issued a notification, which was challenged by some petitioners before the SHC that delivered the judgment on October 15, 2021. The petitioners had contended that the provincial government notification did not comply with the Sindh Minimum Wages Act, 2015.

The bench set aside the SHC’s verdict and allowed the petitioners to continue to pay Rs19,000 as minimum wage to their employees.

During the proceeding, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, a member of the bench, questioned who determines the minimum wage of the workers. Advocate Abid S Zubairi, representing the petitioners, submitted that under Section 3 of the Sindh Minimum Wage Act, 2015, a Minimum Wage Board is established.

It prescribes the minimum rates of wages of workers. He stated that the Board proposes the minimum wage to be fixed and submits its recommendation to the government under Section 6 of the Act.

Minimum wage: SC issues notices to AGP, AG Sindh

The counsel further submitted that the government may then issue a notification in the official gazette under Section 6 (1)(a) of the Act if it agrees with the recommendation of the Board, but if it does not agree then refer the matter back to the Board for reconsideration under Section 6(1)(b) of the Act.

In the last hearing, he had submitted that the Board had recommended a minimum wage of Rs19,000 per month, increasing it from the previous minimum wage of Rs17,500 per month.

However, the provincial cabinet enhanced the minimum wage to Rs25,000, per month, without issuing a gazette notification as envisaged by Section 6 of the Act.

He pleaded that that gazette notification was issued on November 12, 2021, pursuant to the SHC’s judgment, the high court did not direct the government in this regard.

He contended that under Section 6(2) of the Act, the government can refer the matter back to the Board with its comments, but it does not have power to itself determine the minimum wage. The bench separated the petitions of trans-provincial organisations, saying they would examine the petitions of trans-provincial organisations, which are governed by federal legislation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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