IN the 2014-15 budget, the federal and provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa raised the minimum wage from Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 a month for unskilled workers. Sindh has also raised its minimum wage from Rs10,000 to Rs11,000 a month. But Balochistan has decided to retain its earlier minimum wage of Rs9,000 a month which was set in 2012.

In Pakistan, however, minimum wages are determined by Minimum Wage Boards constituted under Ordinance, 1961, which applies to all industrial establishments’ employees whether skilled, unskilled or apprentices and even domestic workers but the ordinance has been dishonoured by most of the industries.

Private and semi-government educational institutions such as public schools, especially in rural areas, exploit their employees by denying commensurate compensation to them.

However, teachers, ministerial staff and lower staff working in these institutions are given heavy burden of work but are paid meagre salaries of Rs4,000 to Rs7,000 a month. Besides, there is no provision for any other allowances, increments and medical facility to them.

Now polio workers are hired on daily wages by the World Health Organisation through provincial health departments to carry out vaccination drives in the country.

They do complicated and precarious work by carrying out vaccination drives in far-flung and in high-risk areas to protect lives of our children from polio virus.

But they are paid a meagre wage of Rs250 ($2.29) a day, though they had been promised that a minimum wage of Rs1,000 ($917) a day would be paid to them by the WHO.

Thousands of employees are working on petrol and CNG stations. These entities pay Rs5,000 to Rs7,500 to their workers and also take 12-hour work instead of eight-hour work from their employees a day.

Salaries of employees are deducted even when they take leave from duty owing to illness or some emergency. In this situation, employees of these entities are unable to provide even two meals to their family members.

This is sheer injustice, and the government must introduce effective mechanism to ensure payments of salaries and daily wages to all employees according to national and international laws.

Shaikh Abdul Rasheed

Shikarpur

Published in Dawn March 1st , 2015

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