Doctors at Shaikh Zayed Hospital (SZH) went on strike for 90 minutes on Wednesday denouncing a decision by the Punjab government to cut their salaries, though the government denied such a decision had been made.
The hospital was recently transferred from federal government to provincial government control. Doctors employed by the federal government get paid more than doctors employed by the provincial government, and the SZH doctors have voiced concern about their salaries being brought down.
The doctors went on strike for a short while on Wednesday after the finance director of the hospital warned them that their salaries were being cut. They said that the Health Department had told him that they simply couldn’t afford to pay them the high salaries they were used to.
However, an official in the Health Department said that such a decision to slash their salaries had not been made leave alone notified. He said that the doctors’ salaries had not been transferred yet.
“The salary of a medical officer has been slashed from Rs80,000 to Rs42,000,” which is what an MO at other public hospitals in the province makes, said a doctor at SZH. “Our post graduate trainees were paid Rs50,000 by the federal government and this month their salaries have been reduced to Rs22,000.”
A senior doctor at SZH said they would refuse to draw their salaries from the provincial government as a protest. “We worked under the federal government for 15 days [in February]. We will take the salary for that period and not for the other two weeks, unless the Punjab government gives us the full pay,” he said.
The strike was postponed after SZH Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal assured the doctors that he would discuss the matter with the government. The doctors said they would announce their strategy on Tuesday.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) officials “strongly condemned” the Punjab government’s purported decision to cut the salaries of SZH employees. They said that the decision was a violation of the doctors’ rights as well as a Supreme Court verdict. They urged the chief minister to “take immediate notice of the conspiracy being plotted against his government and …. save this prestigious institution.”
The press statement was signed by Dr M Tanveer Anwar, Dr Izhar Ahmed Chaudhry, Prof M Ashraf Nizami, Dr Shahid Malik, Dr Ihsanur Rehman, Dr Yasmin Ihsan, Dr Kamran, Dr Sabahat Habib Khan and Dr Salman Kazmi.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2012.