PESHAWAR, Oct 12: A Peshawar High Court bench on Oct 11 directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary to file comments within 10 days on a petition challenging the government’s move to end the applicability of different labour laws, including the one about the minimum wages, to the private educational institutions in the province.
Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Younis Taheem fixed Oct 21 for the next hearing into the petition filed by lawyer Saleem Shah Hoti requesting to strike down the relevant amendments to the laws by declaring them illegal and unconstitutional.
Mr Hoti has filed the petition in the larger public interest, saying private educational institutions across the province have been subjecting teachers to the worst form of exploitation but they’ve been removed from the purview of the labour department for being owned by several lawmakers.
The respondents in the petition are the speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, the provincial government through the chief secretary, provincial law secretary, labour department, provincial advocate general and chairman of the ruling PTI Imran Khan.
The labour department has already submitted its comments and has supported the contention of the petitioner stating that it had opposed the said amendments.
Additional advocate general Qaisar Ali Shah said the labour department had been supporting the petitioner. He added that the provincial government was represented by the chief secretary and therefore, he should file comments to be considered the government’s.
Mr Hoti said the labour secretary in his comments had supported the petitioner.
He added that the labour secretary had opposed the relevant bill before enactment of the law and had told the government that if these amendments were passed it would hamper the efforts of the provincial government with regard to ensuring human rights and social justice and protection.
Mr Hoti said in 2015, the provincial assembly had passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Amendment Laws) Act 2015 through which different amendments were made to different labour laws, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Payment of Wages Act 2013, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Industrial and Commercial Employment (Standing Orders), 2013, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minimum Wages Act, 2013, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Industrial Statistics Act, 2013.
He said after those amendments, the labour laws in question no longer applied to private educational institutions in the province.
Mr Hoti said after the enforcement of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act, 2010, the four labour laws in question were passed in the province in 2013.
He added that the provincial legislature had passed those laws for the welfare of the workers associated with private sector institutions and units.
The petitioner said those laws were meant to regulate the minimum wages to certain classes of persons employed in factories, industrial establishment and commercial establishment, regulate the payment of wages, provide for regulation of industrial and commercial employment in the province, and facilitate the collection of statistics of certain kinds relating to factories, and industrial and commercial establishments.
He claimed the minimum monthly salary had been fixed at the rate of Rs15,000 in the province, whereas the private educational institutions had employed highly educated and qualified male and female teachers and ancillary staff members for few thousand rupees, which was both disrespectful and insufficient for them.
He claimed that the assembly’s speaker and other lawmakers from the government side owned educational institutions due to which the impugned amendments were made.
Published by Daily Dawn on Oct 12, 2017