Visually impaired govt employees warn of strike on Oct 14


–Say govt hasn’t regularised them despite promises

LAHORE: A group of visually impaired citizens on Sunday threatened the Punjab government of a strike and protest in front of the Punjab Assembly on October 14 in an attempt to bring attention to their due rights.

The potential protestors, who are associated with the City District Government Lahore (CDGL), are demanding government authorities to declare them as permanent employees.

It is worth mentioning here that 350 out of the 1,150 visually impaired persons, who have been working as daily wagers with local government departments in various districts of Punjab, are associated with CDGL as daily wagers.

“Many of us are without wages or permanent status since April this year,” said Omar Rasheed, a leader of the visually impaired persons, while talking to Pakistan Today.

Last year on June 27, for the first time in the country’s history, Yousaf Saleem, a visually impaired person, took oath as a civil judge.

Initially, he was denied the position of the civil judge despite being a topper in examinations. However, then chief justice Saqib Nisar took notice and directed the Lahore High Court (LHC) to reconsider Saleem as a candidate for the post.

Now, Yousaf Saleem is serving as a civil judge in Lahore’s civil courts successfully.

The aggrieved citizens said that Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat had held negotiations with them on the advice of Chief Minister (CM) Usman Buzdar after they staged a protest on Mall Road on April 29 this year.

“He assured us of being declared as permanent employees. However, they have not fulfilled their promise despite the passage of over four months,” they stated.

They also criticised Punjab Housing Minister Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, saying that the minister did not even bother to listen to their grievances.

“Rasheed used to ask us for support during elections with promises that his government would do something for us, but now he doesn’t even allow us in his chamber,” said Malik Manzoor, another activist of the community.

Visually Impaired Wagers Body’s (VIWB) General Secretary Muhammad Waqas said that they had been getting extremely low wages due to which they cannot meet their daily expenses.

“We are educated but are paid a mere Rs573 per day,” said Muhammad Waqas, adding that holidays and Sundays are not paid at all.

“Getting a reasonable job after a high and proper qualification is our right just like others,” Malik Manzoor added, pointing out that many of their colleagues and friends had crossed the age limit for a government job owing to the government’s negligence.

“The government must take notice of it,” he appealed, announcing that they would be on the roads if their demands were not met before the deadline.