Pakistani union secures provincial-wide wage increase for all types of workers

The Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW) successfully pushed for a province-wide wage increase covering all workers with different skill categories employed in industrial and commercial enterprises, regardless of registration.  

PFBWW General Secretary Aslam Adil expressed happiness over the matter. He said that the union has been demanding wage increase for skilled workers through negotiations and collective bargaining with different stakeholders.

“This is a victory for all workers and union members. We would like to thank the provincial government and other stakeholders for bringing parity to the wage revision by covering all categories of workers,” Adil said.   

“Skilled workers have long been discriminated on the basis of low wages contrary to what they truly deserve. Many of Pakistan’s infrastructure sites require specialised skills, which are now increasingly being fulfilled by the local skilled workforce. With this wage increase, companies and employers shall also be held liable in revising the wages of skilled workers,” Adil added. 

In the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Adil said that PFBWW sits at the Minimum Wage Board (MWB) wherein it lobbied for a wage increase for skilled and semi-skilled workers employed at construction sites, on top of the daily wage for unskilled workers. The union made the suggestions during the MWB’s meeting last 26 May, which the board approved through an order on 31 May. 

The said order also increases the daily salaries of unskilled workers from PKR 17,500 to PKR 21,000 covering 8 hours a day of work for 26 days in 1 month, with the remaining four days declared as weekly holiday. 

Time-rated workers, temporary workers, piece-rated workers and workers employed on a contractual basis starting 1 July are also covered by the order as per Section 5 (2) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minimum Wages Act of 2013. 

The order also ensures that women and transgender workers enjoy the same salaries. 

A public notification for the order has been put out for a period of one month (until 30 June 2021) to entertain any objections and/or concerns. The order is expected to take full effect on 1 July 2021. 

During the wage board meeting, PFBWW said that wage increases for skilled and semi-skilled workers are often left for the employers to decide.  As a result, skilled workers are underpaid, receiving minimum wages that apply to unskilled workers. PFBWW described this as grossly unfair. 

In Pakistan, the government regularly revises its minimum wage on a regular basis for the unskilled or daily-wage workers based on the recommendations of the MWB.