Health workers call off strike

Health minister says no government hospital is being privatised nor any employee sacked

Our Correspondent November 01, 2017

LAHORE: Health workers have called off their strike after their negotiations with the government proved successful late on Tuesday.

Authorities have also assured that a committee would be formed to decide which could be regualarised.

Earlier in the day, while holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans against the privatisation of the health sector, more than 400 daily wage workers of the health department took to the streets. They held a sit-in on Tuesday in front of the office of the department’s director general.

This was the second consecutive day when employees of the health department, including lady health workers, took to the streets in large numbers.

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Talking to The Express Tribune, United Health Federation president Chaudhry Mushtaq Gujjar said the protest was called off for the day as the health department official wanted to meet the protesters for negotiations.

He demanded the government immediately withdraw the policy of privatisation and issue confirmation letters to all anti-dengue health workers.

“Mostly, these workers are from Basic Health Units (BHUs), polio vaccinators and members of the team of dengue surveillances,” he said, adding these employees have spent more than eight years providing health services at the doorsteps of citizens. Now they are being deprived of their very livelihood.

He said the main issue was that the government was planning to privatise the dengue surveillance project and anti-polio vaccination campaigns, while hiring new staff on low wages.

A health department spokesman told The Express Tribune that the protesters were using unfair means for the acceptance of their demands, but the government could not be strong armed by such tactics.

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“We follow the standard operating procedures for the confirmation of these employees as most of them have already got their letters from the department.”

“We are in negotiations with these workers and let’s see what happens next,” he concluded.

No Privatisation

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Health Khawaja Imran Nazir has categorically announced that neither is any government hospital being privatised nor is any employee being removed from their jobs.

He said only the management of some hospitals was being outsourced, however, the assets and property would remain under the ownership of the government.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2017.


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