Friday September 17, 2021

Minimum wage: SHC directs labour dept, wage board to respond to traders’ objections

Minimum wage: SHC directs labour dept, wage board to respond to traders’ objections

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday issued notices to secretary labour and human resource department, secretary minimum wage board on a petition of traders associations that challenged the fixation of minimum monthly wage of Rs25,000 for unskilled workers by the Sindh government, terming it will lead to closure of businesses.

Petitioners Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries, SITE Association and others submitted in the petition that the Sindh government has announced increasing salary from Rs17,500 to Rs25,000 per month without initiating statutory requirements as contained in the Sindh Minimum Wages Act. They submitted that impugned notification was a complete violation of the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act 2015 and in excess of jurisdiction. They said the government, instead of considering employers' offer, issued the impugned notification by fixing the enhanced wages, while the secretary labour did not send a reference to the board proposing Rs25,000 per month as the minimum wage. Furthermore, the increase in minimum wages announced by the federal government and other provinces was much less than the one announced by the Sindh government. Terming the 43pc increase in minimum wage as irrational and without any legal basis, they said it will have a consequential effect in terms of variable cost on account of allowances, leave bonus and gratuity, etc.

They said that the increase in the minimum wage of unskilled workers will also invoke proportionate increase in the wages of other categories of workers and employees, impacting the compensation structure of the petitioners besides leaving extremely adverse impacts which may even lead to closure of businesses. They submitted that and fixation of Rs25,000 will place the petitioners in most uncompetitive and disadvantageous position. The court was requested to declare the impugned notification as unlawful and suspend its operation till decision of the petition.

The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui, after preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to the secretary labour, minimum wage board and advocate general and called their comments on August 6.