Speakers demand payment of minimum wages to all workers

Karachi, April 3, 2021: Speakers at a seminar on Saturday demanded the government to ensure payment of the minimum wages to all workers especially janitors of the civic bodies, security guards and petrol pump workers.The seminar on the “Situation of  Implementation of the Minimum Wages Law” was organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at Karachi Press Club.Right activist Naim Sadiq, Executive Director of PILER Karamat Ali and General Secretary of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Nasir Mansoor were the main speakers whereas leaders of the trade unions and civil society attended the event. 

Naim Sadiq said the Sindh Social Security Institution SESSI and Employees Oldage Benefit Institution (EOBI) and provincial labour department should implement a recent decision of Sindh High Court on March 10, 2021 for payment of minimum wages to Janitor staff or sanitary workers.

Naim Sadiq, the main petitioner said he asn some other friends were concerned about very low wages to sanitary workers, security guards and other workers who are mostly hired by the private contractors.

He said despite the fact minimum wage law exists in Pakistan there is no implementation of the law.Minimum wage is already much less than the living wages and even over 60 percent of the workers in Pakistan are not getting it, he said adding that there is no social security services or any dearness allowance for such workers he said adding that over 95 percent workers do not receive any social security facility from the state Institutions.He welcomed the SHC verdict in favour of the Janitors and said now it is a role of the implementation bodies of the state to ensure payment of at least minimum wages to all workers.

“We had conducted a survey of living conditions of the Cantonment Board Clifton’s Janitors who are facing a lot of problems in the skyrocketing price hike.” These workers are hired by contractors and majority receive less than half of the minimum wages, fixed by the provincial government.

He said their group of friends started writing to the concerned civic organisations asking about salaries of the Janitors, but they did not receive any reply from the authorities. “We then filed applications under the Right to Information asking about appointment letters of their Janitors.” But response was poor.

Through a senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqi this group of the concerned citizens filed a Constitution petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) and after two years of the lengthy legal proceedings the court gave a historical judgement ordering the civic bodies to pay minimum wages to all workers even if they are hired through contractors.

The court has also asked the authorities to make payment of salaries through banking channels, ensure registration with Sindh Social Security Institution (SESSI) and EOBI and provide workers appointment letters.”Within one day the salaries of CBC  Janitors were increased from Rs. 12,500 to 17,500.”The wages of the employees of other sectors are also very low especially those working at petrol pumps and as a security guards.

He regretted that the civil society in Karachi did not play its role and raise for rights of this backward and vulnerable sections of the society. The EOBI and SESSI are state Institutions and they have to ensure implementation of the minimum wages under the law.Karamat Ali of PILER said that according to a recent report by the World Bank Pakistani citizens are earning less than 2 Dollars per day, which is less than even minimum wages.

He underlined the need to implement the SHC orders.Nasir Mansoor demanded to  include unemployment allowance in the social security services.He pointed out that during the COVID-19 lockdown the private sector refused to pay salaries to their workers despite the fact a special law was passed by Sindh government to pay salaries to their workers. A large number of workers in industries of Karachi were removed during the lockdown last year and the government failed to implement its own law. 

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