No fear: Paramedics remind govt of promises outside K-P Assembly

Demand service structure, allowance; say they do not fear termination or suspension

Our Correspondent March 29, 2016
Paramedics tend to a wounded victim of the suicide attack at a hospital in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Paramedical Association called off its strike after successful negotiations with the government. The association members said authorities agreed to a service structure for staff members and health professional allowance.

They said Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai, Additional Health Secretary Motasim Billah and Minister for Finance Muzaffar Said assured they would speak to the boards of governors of hospitals to withdraw transfer orders against employees who went on strike.

Earlier, hundreds of paramedics from across the province reached the provincial capital and held a sit-in outside the K-P Assembly to press for an allowance and service structure. The health employees abandoned their posts at their respective medical facilities to attend the protest.

For a second day: Patients suffer as paramedics protest

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Paramedical Association members gathered at Lady Reading Hospital initially and proceeded to the K-P Assembly to hold a demonstration. Khyber Road was completely blocked for traffic besides other routes leading to University Road and Hayatabad.

The paramedics have been protesting against the government for failing to fulfil promises made during a meeting with K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in April 2015. The protesters warned they would not resume duties until their demands were met.

Association office-bearers from various districts said the government had backtracked on the word it had given during earlier negotiations.

Show-cause notices

They said hospital administrations were planning on issuing show-cause notices to protesting health employees. However, the paramedics threatened they were willing to go to any extent as they did not fear losing their jobs.

“We were promised a health professional allowance during a meeting with the chief minister in which the health secretary was also present, but they ‘forgot’ to issue a notification,” the association’s general secretary Roidad Shah underlined. “We are protesting to remind them of their promise.”

He said the strike was being carried out throughout the province and members of the association from every district were present outside the provincial assembly. “I don’t care about any show-cause notice, suspension or termination from service,” the general secretary stressed.

He stated the government should immediately announce health professional allowance, service structure and assure that sons will be adjusted on seats once their fathers retired from service.

A demonstration was also held in Shangla by the paramedics who had also left work to protest.

Token strike?

A health department official said a meeting was held with the association’s members on Monday. The paramedics were told a summary for health professional allowance was sent to the finance department.

“We agreed there will be no strike, but association members insisted on a token demonstration as colleagues from other districts will be reaching the provincial capital,” the official said.

He pointed out a few people, mostly from Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), had been transferred after a strike at the medical facility and these were the individuals spurring on the protesters. “Their only objective is to pressurise the government to withdraw the transfer orders.”

Needing time

Speaking at Monday’s K-P Assembly session, Tarakai said the service structure for paramedics and health professional allowance were technical matters which were sent to the finance department and required time to sort out. “We are pursuing the issue and there is no need to boycott duties at health facilities, but holding strikes has now become the fashion,” Tarakai quipped.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th,  2016.


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