World is moving to living wages from minimum wages, moot told

KARACHI: The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will soon launch a campaign to redress complaints about the non-implementation of minimum wages.

Speaking at a provincial consultation session on the implementation of the Sindh Minimum Wage Act organised jointly by the SHRC and the Knowledge Forum, SHRC chairman Iqbal Detho said on Friday that the provincial government was evolving a mechanism to receive workers’ complaints.

Mr Detho said the commission, which receives complaints about the non-implementation of minimum wages on a daily basis, will provide an online complaint form with the assistance of the Labour Department’s Sindh Wage Board.

The SHRC is a legally established entity with the authority to take suo motu actions against human rights violations. The objective of the consultation was to reach a consensus over a systematic approach for the government to determine the minimum wage rate for both skilled and unskilled workers.

SHRC to launch campaign against non-implementation of minimum wages

Under the Sindh Minimum Wage Act 2015, a Minimum Wage Board determines the minimum wages for both unskilled and skilled workers.

In 2022, the Sindh government established Rs25,000 as the minimum monthly wage for unskilled adult/juvenile workers in all provincial industrial and commercial establishments. According to the Asia Floor Wage’s recent calculations, however, the real wage in Pakistan should be Rs67,200 a month.

Sindh Minimum Wage Board chairman Zulfiqar Nizamani said the provincial government is now fixing minimum wages through a tripartite mechanism, keeping in view the level of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Mr Nizamani said the government wants wages to be disbursed to workers via bank accounts to eliminate the possibility of any corrupt practices.

Trade unionist Zehra Khan said a trust deficit exists between employees and employers. She pointed out that the world is moving away from minimum wages and towards living wages.

As a member of the Minimum Wage Board, Ms Khan said the body has also started fixing minimum wages for home-based workers. For the first time, minimum wages for glass bangle workers are being fixed and published in the official gazette, she added.

Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWM) Managing Director Imtiaz Ali Shah highlighted the measures to implement the minimum wage for sanitation workers.

In the open discussion that followed the speeches, Zahir Farooque of the Urban Resource Centre (URC) said the provincial government is spending a lot of funds for the disposal of solid waste, but the private companies are paying meagre wages to workers. Some of these workers are receiving as low as Rs10,000 in monthly wages, he said.

Published in Dawn, May 27TH, 2023