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Activists moot realistic living wage for Pakistani workers
Dec '15
The Pakistani government needs to fix a living wage of Rs 31,000 per month, according to Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education and Research (PILER) Executive Director Karamat Ali.

The current system of minimum wages is insufficient and does not allow workers to lead a fulfilling life, he claimed. The minimum wages are not implemented in many industries, he pointed out, adding that currently, workers are receiving 60 per cent less than the actual amount fixed by the government.

Ali was addressing a press conference in Karachi at the end of a two-day consultation titled "Asia floor wage: regional solidarity towards living wage in garment sector", jointly organised by Piler, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and the Clean Clothes Campaign.

A committee of researchers and experts, led by senior economist Dr Nadia Tahir, has been formed to prepare recommendations about setting reasonable living wages for workers in Pakistan, while another body comprising members of trade unions and labour representatives has been tasked with proposing guidelines for the formation of new labour organisations.

The decision was taken by civil society activists, trade unions, labour support organisations, academicians and independent research economists during the two-day consultation.

During the consultations over the weekend, researchers, trade union leaders and civil society representatives spoke on various aspects of wages structure in Pakistan.

Trade union leaders from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also spoke on the occasion and shared their experiences regarding introduction of living wages in their respective countries.

“The current system of minimum wages is inefficient and could never allow for workers to lead decent lives. The minimum amount is not implemented in many industries and, currently, most workers in Pakistan are receiving 60 per cent less than the actual minimum wage fixed by the government,” said Karamat Ali. He suggested that the minimum amount should at least be Rs 31,000 at an official level.

Dr Mohammad Irfan, a senior economist at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, in his keynote address, elaborated on the role of trade unions in acquiring wages for workers. He said the role of trade unions in collective bargaining of wages had declined considerably with time due to political interference and lack of proper implementation of laws.

Sharing comparative data of the wage structures in various sectors of the economy in Pakistan, Dr Irfan said proved with figures that government employees enjoyed better average monthly wages, whereas those in informal sectors earned way less. He also revealed that the gap between wages managerial staff and unskilled had increased with time. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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