A rural health centre watchman in Ahmed Nagar has not been paid a salary for over 18-years.
Ahmed Nagar resident, Munir Ahmed has been waiting for a paycheck for over 18 years. Ahmed said that he had been employed by the rural health centre in Chiniot on April 19, 1993 and that he had only been paid a salary for his first three months on duty.
“My working hours are from 7am to 11pm and I can’t even remember the last time I was paid a salary,” Ahmed said. Ahmed said that he was unable to support his family, who were starving.
“We are all starving even though my husband has a job. I began working several years ago to support the family but we can’t make ends meet,” said Ahmed’s wife Zubaida Bibi. Zubaida said that she had taken up work as a house maid to support her three children but that her paycheck was not enough to support the family.
“I feel odd telling people that my husband has a job because he never gets paid. I would much rather he quit and started a small business rather than waited on a paycheck that never comes,” she said. Ahmed said that every month he approached the accounts office and that the administration always told him he would get paid soon and should come back later. “They didn’t tell me that they didn’t even have my name on file for five years,” he said.
“It has been nearly two decades and now they deny that I work here. They say I have missed many days and was fired,” Ahmed said, adding that he had started selling fruit in the street for several hours in the middle of the day to make ends meet. “I wouldn’t miss any days if they had paid me but since they didn’t I had to find alternatives,” he added.
Doctors at the rural health centre have appealed to the district administration on Ahmed’s behalf. “I have been here for four years and I know he hasn’t been paid once in that time,” said Dr Arshed. “He tells me every month to talk to someone on his behalf. I have spoken to the administration but it makes no difference,” he said.
Arshed said that the administration had been playing Ahmed for a fool.
“Whenever he asks for his money the office tells him he has been fired but every time they need someone to open the gate or lock up they call for Ahmed,” he said.
“It is inhuman. This man has been working here for decades and has never been paid. Rather than feeling ashamed the administration is refusing to even acknowledge him,” said Dr Safia Khalid.
Chiniot Executive District Officer (EDO) health Muhammad Afzal said that Munir Ahmed had been fired from his position years ago. “He was let go from the post years ago but he hasn’t left. He was never at work so we fired him and now he is trying to blackmail us,” Afzal said. “Besides when he was hired Chiniot was still a tehsil of the Jhang district. His documentation is still filed under a different district. This isn’t our responsibility,” he said.
“If I was let go, why didn’t they hire a replacement? Why do they still ask me to come in to work?” Ahmed said.
Ahmed and his wife have appealed to the district government to take notice of the situation and help him recover his wages.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2011.