BY virtue of the 18th Amendment, the labour legislation was devolved to the provinces. One of the purposes of devolution was to make working of this sensitive and critical sphere of legislation more efficient and user-friendly. Provincial legislators can now amend labour laws to meet the needs of both entrepreneurs and workers employed in industrial and commercial establishments. However, they were also expected to exercise those powers in the overall interest of the country.

Although workers tend to move and settle at places where they get ample employment opportunities, they also migrate from one province to the other due to personal and other reasons. As a result, the respective provincial governments should have this much coordination amongst them that some commonality is maintained in matters of industrial relations and the wage structure.

It is unfortunate that the governments of Punjab and Balochistan started using it as an opportunity for political point-scoring and expediency. They fixed the minimum wages for workers at Rs9,000 a month. effective July 1, 2012, while it was Rs 8,000 in Sindh and KP.

Besides, fixing minimum wages, which is directly linked with the subsistence of workers and their families, is taken up at leisure and non-seriously by provincial governments. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had fixed the minimum wages at Rs15,000 a month effective July 1, 2014 vide notification dated Sept 9, 2014.

Since the said government did not follow the process of getting recommendation from the Minimum Wage Board, the notification has been challenged in the court.

The three other provincial governments fixed the minimum wages at Rs12,000 a month, effective July 1, 2014, and issued notifications to this effect: Punjab: 11-09-2014, Balochistan: 10-12-2014 and Sindh: 12-3-2015, i.e. just three months away from the announcement of the new budget.

The delay in the issuance of these notifications by the Balochistan and Sindh governments not only kept the workers in a limbo but has also created difficulties for employers to pay the arrears of increase from July, 2014.

Parvez Rahim

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

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Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

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