Health workers protest non-payment of salaries, block city’s main artery


January 30, 2011

Hundreds of protesting lady health workers on Saturday threatened to boycott the 111th anti-polio campaign starting from January 31 unless the government regularized them and paid their salaries in addition to their travel allowances, which had not been given to them for the last four months.

The lady health workers, who are associated with the National Program on Family Planning and Basic Health, took to the streets on Saturday morning and marched to the Sindh Chief Minister’s House and later to the Governor’s House to record their protest.

The protestors, along with their children, blocked the Fawara Chowk near the Governor’s House for traffic and staged a sit-in which was continuing till our going to the press.

They said that the government had not regularized them even after 17 years of service.

The only official to visit the protestors was the Sindh Secretary of Health, Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, but the protestors refused to listen to him, saying that they had been given such “lollypops” on several occasions, but this time round they were not going to accept such hollow promises.

Marvi Memon, PML-Q’s MNA, and Nusrat Sahar Abbasi, an MPA from the PML-Functional, visited the protestors and expressed their solidarity with them. She assured the protesters that she would raise the issue in the National Assembly.

The health secretary urged the protestors to end their protest as he was ready to send recommendations to the federal government regarding regularization of contractual workers and that efforts were under way for payment of their salaries.

“On Sindh CM’s directives, I have spoken to the federal health secretary, Nargis Sethi, and to Sohail Ahmed, secretary of planning, for your salaries,” he told the protestors who said they now wanted issuance of notification for their regularization, not just one month’s salary.

Police personnel with anti-riot gear were deployed at the Governor’s House while a water-canon was also at hand, but the police did not force the protestors into leaving the road.

Meanwhile, Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed demanded of the federal government to immediately pay salaries to the lady health workers in Sindh. He said that if the federal government was unable to give salaries to the lady health workers, the provincial government was ready to do so provided the federal government reimbursed the same at a later date.

TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK: Closure of the Fawara Chowk created a traffic mess, leaving the motorists stranded for hours due to diversion of vehicular traffic to alternative routes.

Traffic jams were witnessed in the entire Saddar area as well as on MA Jinnah Road, Sharea Faisal, the II Chundrigar Road, the Sarwar Shaheed Road, Ziauddin Ahmed Road and several others. Traffic police failed to come to the rescue of the motorists who were stuck in an unprecedented rush in the old city areas. Traffic from Drigh Road and Karsaz was diverted to Kalapul.

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