The education department’s lower staff have been camped outside the Karachi Press Club for the last 23 days. These persistent protesters come from all over the province and have the same demand - permanent and not contract jobs. The non-teaching staff from grades 1 to 4 wants permanent, secure jobs for all 7,187 employees, who have been serving in the education department since 2007.
Darya Khan, president of the Sindh Lower Staff Association, told The Express Tribune that they started protesting in February and since then, the Sindh government has promised to meet their demands twice. Both times, however, it failed to live up to the promise, says Khan. First the chief minister assured a bill would be passed in the Sindh Assembly on February 21 to regularise their jobs and then the education minister, Pir Mazharul Haq, told them that if they submitted all their documents to their respective DCOs, they would be confirmed employees. “The second time we actually packed up and left Karachi.” He maintains the staff submitted all required papers but the issue remains unresolved.
To add to their woes, the education department has introduced two new requirements - candidates must have studied till at least class VIII and they must be under 40 years old.
Khan argues that early in 2008, the Supreme Court had ordered regularisation of contractual employees with two to three years of service in government departments.
The order was implemented in the Punjab while in Sindh, only a few departments, such as PIA and KESC, acted on it.
He also alleged that the Sindh chief minister has appointed 6,000 people on contract, without interviewing or advertising the posts. “If these people can be hired, why don’t they help us?”
Among the dejected protesters was Ghulam Rasool, 38. He used to be a naib qasid in the EDO office at Matiari. “While I wait here for justice, my family back home barely manages to eat two meals a day,” he says. “I can’t do anything because it’s not easy to find another job back in Matiari. All I can do is sit here and hope the issue would be solved one day.”
The education minister could not be immediately reached for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2011.
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