Education Department Staffers : Protest ends after four days

The protest eneded after assurances from the political leadership that their rights will be given.


Samia Saleem February 20, 2011

KARACHI: The Sindh Education Department’s Lower Staff Association ended its protest after four days on Saturday after assurances from the political leadership that their rights will be given.

Old but not frail, 53-year-old Hajan Khan, who is a member of the association, had to come out on the streets even after 27 years of service to the education department. He has served as a gatekeeper in Dadu Degree College all his life and plans to do the same for the next four years of his working age. “We will thank all those who supported us in the fight,” he said happily as his colleagues dispersed.

The struggle for these workers was not easy as they had to endure baton-charging and teargas shells by the police. “We did this to make our voices heard and it ultimately paid off,” said Ghulam Rasool, another member at the rally. He was, however, still sceptical. “They have just made promises and we have given them a five-day ultimatum. We will come out on the streets again if they do not comply.”

A delegation of All Sindh Education Department Lower Staff Association, Karachi, led by their president, Darya Khan, visited the Chief Minister House on Friday. Khan told The Express Tribune that Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has assured that a bill will be passed in the Sindh Assembly on February 21 to regularise the employees. He also promised to consider the other demands made by the members.

Four days ago, hundreds of members of the association took to the streets to demand job regularisation and salaries pending for several months. The Sindh government had appointed around 7,187 non-teaching staff members in 2007 on a three-year contract for different government-run schools and colleges across Sindh but they had not been regularised as promised.

Khan said that they were forced to protest in public after Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq issued a notification a month ago to sack nearly 2,000 employees who had been appointed by the previous government. The news came as a shock to the members as the minister had assured the employees on two occasions that they will be regularised, he added.

The protesters waited in vain for a representative of the education department to pay them a visit but they have now settled for the assurances made by the chief minister, and other political leaders, including Rashid Rabbani, Waqar Mehdi and Farooq Sattar.

Among their other demands, the lower staff members want the government to set a timescale for them, similar to the one for teachers, who receive their salaries and promotions based on the time they have spent at the job. They also want the government to guarantee jobs for the children of retired workers under the sons’ quota.

Workers should also be given promotions when their educational qualifications increase and the department should be transferred from district- to Sindh-level. Khan listed these demands as an estimated 1,400 workers shouted slogans in celebration.

Among those protesting were the non-teaching employees of the Sindh Department of Education and Literacy, including watchmen, drivers, peons and gardeners between grades 1 and 4. Their pay scale varies from Rs3,781 to almost Rs13,000. Workers from as far a field as Dadu, Panu Aqil, Sukkur, Naushero Feroze and Mithi participated in the protests. Meanwhile, an education ministry spokesperson said that the minister had already sent a summary to the CM saying that the protesting members will only be regularised after a thorough checking of their records. These workers are suspected to have been hired on the basis of fake documents during the tenure of former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2011.

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