Protest of Non-medical staff gathers at PIMS Islamabad

Category: Health

Islamabad (Tuesday, April 26, 2011) : Ongoing strike of non-medical staff of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) is slowly but surely gathering steam. This was evident on Monday when 400 plus workers of the hospital marched up to the MCH Centre to demand an increase in their salaries, along with payment of risk allowance, and award of promotions.
From civil engineers, security personnel, and telephone operators to sanitary workers, ward boys, and ‘ayas,’ all the protestors had black bands around their arms. They gathered outside the MCH Centre in anticipation of being heard by Secretary Health Nargis Sethi, who was scheduled to arrive at the venue for inaugurating a seminar in connection with World Malaria Day. However, the Secretary called off her engagement, and was represented instead by Director General Health Dr. Assad Hafeez, who was given safe passage by the protestors.
“Unless we are united, we will not be heard,” a spokesman of the protestors stated on the microphone. He urged doctors and professors to strengthen their movement by becoming part of the protest. “We stood by you when you needed us; it is now your turn to reciprocate,” he demanded. The non-medical staff enjoyed full support of the paramedics, whose representatives also made fiery speeches to express solidarity with the protesters.
What started as a one-hour token strike on April 13 has resumed after a break that resulted from the hospital administration taking a lenient view of the situation and assuring the protesters that their demands would be forwarded to the Ministry of Health for appropriate action.
“The paper sent to the ministry was totally out of context. Our protest has been associated with extension of support to the doctors’ strike and necessary action has been proposed against us,” one of the speakers alleged amidst blaring slogans of ‘Nahin chalay gee, nahin chalay gee, ghunda-gardi nahin chalay gee.’
“We are the arms of the administration. Even though nobody has, as yet, paid heed to our demands, we have neither blocked roads or locked our offices, nor taken our protest outside the boundary of the hospital because we hold the interests of patients and the public, close to our hearts,” a spokesman of the protesting workers stated.
The protesters pledged to accord due respect to Nargis Sethi upon her arrival at the venue. “You are the last Health Secretary before the Ministry of Health is devolved. You must do your bit and play a memorable role in meeting the demands of poor workers running from pillar to post at a time marked by unprecedented inflation,” the protesters articulated. “We are not, after all, asking for new pay scales,” they said. The protest continued for a good one hour, leading to delay in commencement of the World Malaria Day seminar.

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