Govt workers protest, disrupt traffic

Leaders of various organizations addressed the crowd, demanding a 100% salary increase for government employees

Our Correspondent May 25, 2024


Employees from various government departments staged a protest rally outside the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, demanding better salaries and benefits. The protest saw a significant turnout, including numerous women from the Departments of Education, Health, Paramedical Staff, Peshawar Development Authority, Water and Sanitation Service Peshawar, Capital Metropolitan, and other departments.

Protesters carried placards and banners outlining their demands and chanted slogans against the provincial government. The demonstration severely disrupted traffic as protesters blocked the main Khyber Road, resulting in long queues of vehicles on both sides of the road, stretching for miles.

During the protest, leaders of various organizations addressed the crowd, demanding a 100% salary increase for government employees in the provincial budget to match the skyrocketing inflation. They rejected the provincial government’s announcement of a 15% salary increase, calling it insufficient.

The protesters demanded that the provincial government increase the budget allocation for government employees and integrate ad hoc relief into the basic salaries, effectively doubling the medical allowance to provide much-needed financial relief. They highlighted that the current allowances, set a decade ago, have not kept pace with the rising costs. For instance, the cost of medicines has increased by 400% in recent years without any corresponding adjustment in allowances. Similarly, conveyance allowances have remained stagnant despite fuel prices tripling from Rs100 to Rs300 over the past decade.

Speakers also urged the government to withdraw deductions made under pension reforms and set the minimum salary at Rs50,000 instead of the current Rs32,000. They demanded that utility allowances be extended to municipal Water and Sanitation Service Peshawar (WSSP) employees, similar to other departments, warning that failure to meet these demands would result in continued protests.

Following negotiations with the district administration and high-ranking police officials, the protest concluded peacefully, and the protesters dispersed.

The streets of Peshawar were particularly crowded on Friday due to the provincial assembly’s budget session and the government employees’ sit-in at Assembly Chowk. These events caused severe disruptions, with traffic jams becoming commonplace. The blockade of Khyber Road by the protesters not only affected the immediate area but also disrupted the entire city’s traffic system, leaving citizens stuck in intense heat for hours.

Peshawar’s roads, already congested, were further choked by the protest, transforming short commutes into hours-long ordeals. This compounded the daily struggles of the city’s residents, who had to endure severe discomfort and delays.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2024.



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