There is a growing feeling of resentment among employees of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Islamabad against the vice chancellor and the top management over a plethora of issues ranging from non-regularisation of contractual employees to posting of ‘favourites’ allegedly on important positions.
The issues have been brewing for some time now. Around 500 employees of the Planning and Development (P&D) Department and other sections of the AIOU held a protest on Friday against the merger of the P&D department with the Directorate of Regional Services (DRS), which is run by Prof. Zafar Ilyas, a close aide of AIOU Vice Chancellor Nazir Ahmad Sangi.
The protesting employees under the banner of the Employees Welfare Association (EWA) alleged that controversial decisions were being thrust upon them by the top management to make way for their ‘favourites’ on top positions. They alleged that if anyone dared to oppose their decisions, they were punished and victimised.
The protesters vowed to continue their struggle until the VC meets their demands and regularises around 800 contractual employees, who have been working in the university for years.
EWA President Mulazim Hussain said, “The VC should have appointed an engineer to run the P&D department instead of merging it with the DRS,” Hussain said. He alleged that the DRS head Prof. Ilyas is a crony of the VC, who has neither an engineering degree nor architectural experience.
According to a press release issued by the AIOU on Friday, the P&D department has been merged with the DRS following complaints that ‘poor’ construction material had been used on a building in Muzaffarabad.
Usman, one of the protesters, who has been working at the university as a contractual employee for the last eight years, said he had resorted to protest after the university management refused to regularise him.
The protesters said that many top management positions in the university were run by ad-hoc officers, who don’t bother to take up their cases, which has caused a deep feeling of resentment among them.
Meanwhile, a press release issued by the AIOU claimed that the protesters were either those who were allegedly involved in corruption or had failed to perform their assigned duties. “They are bent on creating hurdles in the university’s progress,” it said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.