LAHORE: Approximately 15 lady health workers (LHWs) were admitted to the hospital for dehydration as they staged a protest on Mall Road on Tuesday against the nonpayment of their dues.
Tuesday marked the second day of the sit-in where the women voiced concerns over pending salaries, lack of increment and various other issues their departments face. So far, no official from the health department has come forward to initiate dialogue.
Only Jamaat-e-Islami Leader Sirajul Haq visited the LHWs, standing in solidarity with the women and their demands. In contrast, no other lawmaker from the Punjab Assembly addressed the issues the women were facing, despite the fact that the protest has blocked the city’s main thoroughfare since Sunday evening.
Head of the LHWs Rukhsana Anwar claimed that one woman, Amna, had died of a brain hemorrhage during the sit-in.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Anwar revealed that approximately 15 women had been admitted to the hospital due to dehydration.
“These brave ladies have sat outside in the scorching sun for two days. They have left their homes and their children to fight for their family’s livelihood,” she exclaimed. Despite our repeated requests, the health department has made no move to release our salaries or upgrade our pay scales, she complained.
“If one is deprived of their income for five months, how can they possibly provide bread and butter for their loved ones?” Anwar challenged.
These women have travelled from across the province, because our sources in the health department told us that officials have eaten the budget for our salaries, she added.
Due to the demonstration, traffic around Mall Road was disrupted. Traffic on routes connecting Mall Road to other thoroughfares such as Kacheri Road and Hall Road was severely affected. Commuters remained stuck in the snarling mess of vehicles for hours.
Taking notice of this, Anwar expressed that inconveniencing people was not their intention. “We only want that those who sit in the Punjab Assembly take notice of our problems,” she said.
When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the general health director denied the claim that a LHW had died during the protest. They are doing this to gain sympathy for their cause, he said
This was also corroborated by sources within the LHWs as well as by several officials from the health department who stated that there was no body to support the claim.
The spokesperson added that the sit-in was baseless, as the women’s salaries had been transferred to their accounts at the end of every month. At the end of March, they will get their dues for this month, which has been happening for the past five months, he added.
The protesters carried banners and placards, bearing slogans against the health department and its officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2018.
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