LAHORE, Aug 23: The Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC) has urged the federal and provincial governments to devise a uniform mechanism to fix minimum wages of skilled and semi-skilled labourers throughout the country in consultation with all stakeholders.

“So far, the federal and Punjab governments have unilaterally determined varying minimum wages and that too without taking on board representatives of employers and the workers while the Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provincial administrations are yet to initiate the process,” says PWC Secretary-General Khurshid Ahmad.

The federal government has fixed Rs8,000 a month and the Punjab government Rs9,000 for workers without taking into consideration the obligations undertaken in Minimum Wages Ordinance 1961.

Similar increase in the minimum wages of unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and supervisory workers has lowered the importance of skill.

The 1961 law requires the fixation of the minimum wages commensurate with price hike from time to time keeping in view the requirements of essential needs of the workers and their families as laid down in ILO Convention No 26.

Implementation of minimum wages can only be ensured in corporate enterprises having socially responsible managements and organised trade unions besides through an independent labour inspection machinery of the State set up in conformity with ILO Convention No 81 that was ratified by the Pakistan government.

It is the state responsibility to get its minimum wages laws enforced in the industrial and commercial undertakings to save workers from exploitation. At present, the labour inspection machinery is almost helpless before influential employers and capitalists.

Development of industrial and agriculture sectors should atop the priorities of the government so that maximum number of the 1.6 million or so youth entering into labour market every year can have employment opportunities, suggests Mr Ahmed.

The present high rate of unemployment has not only weakened the collective bargaining strength of the workers but also compelled most of them in many informal sectors to even work on much lower rates than the minimum wages fixed by the government.

Female workforce should not be discriminated at workplace and it should be ensured that they are paid on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ in accordance with ILO Convention No 800 that too has been ratified by the Pakistan government, says Mr Ahmad.