20 March, 2023Unions in Pakistan's Punjab province, including IndustriALL affiliates, have successfully negotiated a 28 per cent raise in the minimum wage for workers employed across 102 industries in the province.
The province of Punjab revised the minimum wage from PKR25,000 (US$88) to PKR32,000 (US$113) for unskilled work after the provincial minimum wage board, comprising of government representatives, employers, and trade unions, met in Islamabad on 20 March. The revised minimum wage will come into effect immediately after the Governor of Punjab gives his assent.
With a population of over 100 million, the Punjab province has approximately 10 million industrial workers employed across 102 sectors, including textile, chemical, and mines, to whom the wage revision would be applied. The wages of semi-skilled, skilled, and highly skilled workers will also be raised, reaching PKR35,000 (US$124).
The minimum wage was last revised in 2022. Unions argued in the meeting that given the skyrocketing prices of essential items, wages must be immediately raised to reflect the inflation rate. Pakistan’s inflation rose to 31.5 per cent in February this year and food inflation hovered around 45 per cent, making workers’ lives extremely precarious.
In addition, the country is undergoing a severe economic crisis due to a shortage of foreign reserves. This has drastically affected the export industry, like the textile sector, which is currently witnessing massive job losses.
Nadeem Parwaz, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate PTGLWF and member of the minimum wage board of Punjab, says:
“The successful negotiation of a 28 per cent wage hike is a big achievement for the unions. This will provide some relief to workers who are currently struggling to meet their daily needs amidst high inflation. We hope that other provinces of Pakistan will follow suit.”