Diplomacy: Contract employees at NCA call off strike

Administration, staff agree committee will look into demand on Monday.


Our Correspondent June 14, 2012

LAHORE:


The National College of Arts (NCA) Administrative Staff Association (ASA) on Thursday called off its pen-down strike after the college administration agreed to set up a committee that will meet on Monday to look into their demands.


The decision was taken after talks on Thursday between the college administration and the NCA ASA.

The NCA administrative staff has demanded that all contract employees from grade 1 to 16 be made permanent. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had announced at the NCA convocation on June 26 2011 that this will be done.

Zahid Rafique Butt, president of the NCA ASA, told The Express Tribune that the staff strike which started on June 11 had been called off for now.

Butt said that the talks were their first with the administration.

“We were assured a committee will meet on Monday to look into our demands,” he said.

The NCA ASA had initially called for a three-day token protest from June 11 to June 13 during which they were black ribbons to work.

“We had said that if our concerns were not addressed within these three days, we will start a pendown strike’, said Butt.

Subsequently, the ASA executive body called a two day pen-down strike for June 14 and June 15.

On Thursday, a pen-down strike was observed from 11 am to noon.

Butt said clerks’ offices were locked during this period.

At noon, the administration called the ASA to talks. NCA Principal Sajjad Kausar and Registrar Nadeem Hassan Khan led the talks.

Butt said as many as 160 NCA employees were contract workers, out of which more than 60 were in grades 1 to 4.

He said that these employees included drivers, peons and gardeners and had served the college for several years.

“The oldest contract employees have around for 15 years despite which they are being paid salaries in the range of Rs10,000 to Rs12,000,” Butt said.

Butt himself is a permanent employee. He has been a superintendent for 17 years.

“We were also joined in the protest by contract teachers,” he said. “There are more than 60 contract teachers.”

Sajjad Kausar, the NCA principal, told The Express Tribune that ASA representatives were called and assured of administrations support.

“They are a part of our team, how could we ignore their concerns,” he said.

He said a committee will be formed to forward their concerns to the Cabinet Division.

Kausar said that the NCA administration required approval from the Cabinet Division before changing the status of the employees to permanent.

“I am hopeful that a breakthrough will come soon but I cannot provide a definite timeline,” he said. “We will offer them our resources in the meanwhile.” Butt said, “We have decided to wait till Monday but will meet again on Tuesday to discuss the committee’s response.”

“The case has been sent to the Cabinet Division three times earlier but there has been no progress,” he said.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.

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