–Protesters accuse health minister of making false promises
LAHORE: Hundreds of female employees of the health department demanding service structure and up-gradation of their Basic Pay Scales (BPS) under the banner of National Program Health Employees Association Punjab (NPHEAP) staged a sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly on Monday.
As per the details, the Mall Road remained blocked throughout the day as the employees of the health department including Lady Health Workers (LHWs), Lady Health Supervisors (LHS) and some male drivers of the department, coming in from almost all districts of Punjab, protested at Charing Cross to press for their demands.
Explaining the 16-point charter of demand, Rozeena Khan, a LHS who came all the way from the Khanewal district, told Pakistan Today that they were demanding immediate service structure for over 50,000 employees of their association, and the government must promote LHS to grade 14 while LHWs should be promoted to grade 7 and drivers must be given grade 5 according to their qualification and expertise.
“All of us are over-burdened as we have to perform different duties of vaccination campaigns including polio, measles, dengue while the government imposes other tasks on us including Muharram, Ramadan Bazars and election days duties,” said Rozeena, who is the president of her association from Khanewal.
She also said the government must issue their job description letters as well because their duties were far different from what the officials had imposed on them. “All the LHWs and LHS will boycott the polio campaigns starting next month if our demands are not met,” she added.
Parveen Akhtar, an LHW, who had come from the Jehlum district, told this scribe that all the LHWs of her district had not received their salaries for the past four months and the government was reluctant to clear their arrears pending since 2012.
“We perform our duties in extremely scary environments keeping in view the attacks on polio teams and have to travel to far-flung areas for delivery cases, but the government is still not doing justice with us,” she said while adding that all of them were adamant to stay here till the acceptance of their demands as they had the support of their family members.
Rukhsana Anwar, the president of NPHEAP said that the government was using delaying tactics for their service structure as Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Khawaja Imran Nazir had promised to fulfill their demands on the International Women’s Day observed on March 8, but his promise was yet to be materialized.
Rana Abdul Qadeer, a driver, who had come from Multan, told this scribe that all government vehicles that were meant to be used for the polio campaigns were inoperative in his area because neither did they have any money to get fuel, nor the government was paying any heed towards the grave issue.
“We take LHS on our personal motorbikes for the supervision of the polio teams because we cannot afford vehicles from our own pocket,” he said dejectedly.
Meanwhile, the traffic remained clogged on Mall Road and its arteries including the Queens Road, Davis Road, Garhi Shahu, Shimla Pahari and Lawrence Road while several ambulances were also seen stuck in the logjam.
The commuters suffered a lot due to the gridlock at peak hours as the situation of the traffic flow has already been poor for the past few months owing to the ongoing construction work of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT).
“I remained stuck in the traffic for over an hour at the Queens Road along with my children who were coming back from their school situated at the Hameed Nizami Road (Temple Road) due to the protest being held at Mall Road,” Malik Mubashar, a commuter said.