LAHORE: The caretaker Punjab government has decided to raise the minimum wage of labourers and unskilled workers to Rs 32,000 per month, credible sources told The Friday Times (TFT).
Sources privy to this development confirmed to TFT that on chief minister Punjab Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi’s directives, secretary labour Asadullah Faiz moved the relevant summary to the cabinet for consideration and final approval.
“It will be on the agenda of the next cabinet meeting, and after cabinet’s approval, an official notification would be issued in this regard,” a senior official at the civil secretariat said.
He maintained that it was a good initiative but only if it is implemented in true letter and spirit, otherwise it would be good for nothing.
“CM Naqvi and his cabinet needs to make sure that a comprehensive plan is devised for its timely and effective implementation, and it actually sees the light of day,” the senior official said.
Good project ‘on paper’
Ghulam Abbas, a waiter at a local restaurant in Lahore, told TFT that rising inflation had caused prices of daily use commodities and food items skyrocket. “This announcement and decision of the Punjab government would be a breadth of fresh air for us,” he said.
“We request the chief minister and the Punjab government to devise a proper mechanism for this initiative, and make sure that it works and isn’t just used for publicity, so that it can truly improve the lives of labourers and daily wagers like us,” he added.
Minimum wage is already Rs 25,000
Kaleem Ali, a worker at a textile mill in Faisalabad, told TFT that earlier, the minimum wage was 25,000 in Punjab. “But I was getting 19,000 per month after working hard for around 12 hours a day,” he lamented.
“We are grateful to the Punjab government for raising the minimum wage to Rs 32,000 per month, at a time when food inflation has reached 42 percent. I also request them to make sure that it is implemented,” said Qasim Abbas, a petrol pump worker in Lahore.
Hurdles in implementation?
Sources maintained that the biggest problem is the implementation of this initiative, starting with bureaucratic hurdles as the mandarins always make all out efforts to discourage and stymie such public welfare projects.
“In case the decision is reached, the bureaucrats and government officials join hands with certain public and private organizations, and ignore whether minimum wages are actually given to workers across the province,” sources explained.
They appreciated the decision of the Punjab government which needs final approval of the cabinet. But the real challenge for the cabinet will start after the notification is issued, and whether they would be able to develop an effective check-and-balance mechanism or not.
Govt must impose heavy fines on violators
Sources privy to this development advised CM Naqvi and his cabinet to impose heavy fines on businesses and enterprises who don’t give the notified minimum wage to the labourers they employ.
They further stressed that government officials found guilty of facilitating businesses who don’t pay minimum wage due to labourers must be dealt with an iron hand as well.
“By imposing fines and taking strict actions this could be implemented in true letter and spirit across the province,” they concluded.