A notification by the Sindh government to increase the minimum wage for unskilled adults and juvenile workers has been overturned by the Supreme Court which found that the government had issued the notice without lawful authority and encroached upon the mandate of the Minimum Wages Board.
In an eight-page judgement authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, the Supreme Court stated, “we are of the view that the Government travelled beyond its authority to encroach upon the mandate of the Board and issued the Notification without lawful authority.”
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial decided the matter, setting aside an earlier Sindh High Court order which had permitted the wage hike. The petitioners in the complaint were representatives from the business community at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) Association.
“We do appreciate the concern shown by the Government for the welfare of the workers. However, […] the Government cannot go against the provisions of the Act and arrogate to itself the function entrusted to the Board,” the statement said, adding that “No matter how noble the purpose or objective be, the Government cannot skirt around the mandate granted by the legislature.”
The court remarked that the Government should have responded to the Board’s suggested wage increase, rather than issuing its own notification. The Board had recommended the minimum wage be set at Rs.19,000 per month, while the Government instead set the provincial minimum wage at Rs. 25,000 per month.