PESHAWAR: Hundreds of health workers of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) protested outside the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday against the non-payment of salaries for more than seven months. Around 50 protesters later set up a tent and were participating in a sit-in till this report was filed.
The agitated employees also blocked Jail Road near Sher Shah Suri Bridge for an hour, causing a massive traffic jam on major roads across the city.
According to Irfan Khan, the president of EPI Members Association, the sit-in will continue outside the building of the provincial assembly till their demands are met.
Addressing the protest, Khan claimed negotiations between a delegation of protesting staffers and the administration of EPI had failed due to the “harsh behaviour” of EPI Deputy Director Tahir Nadeem. “Our delegation met senior EPI officials and apprised them of our demands but the administration refused to talk with the representatives,” said Khan.
He added the two demands put forward were the immediate release of their salaries which have not been paid for the last eight months along with the regularisation of 300 contractual staffers.
“In light of an earlier decision by the high court, the provincial government issued orders to regularise 25 EPI workers. However, deputy director Tahir Nadeem is creating a hurdle in regularising the remaining 300 workers,” said Khan.
The protest leader added that in May the health ministry had promised to pay their pending salaries, however, seven months have passed and the EPI staffers remain deprived of their remuneration.
According to Khan, EPI workers from Chitral, Mansehra and Abbottabad had arrived in Peshawar to take part in the sit-in because they have also not been paid despite performing their duties regularly.
Meanwhile, hundreds of EPI staffers also protested outside the office of the EPI deputy director led by Irfan Khan, workers association chairman Malik Qamar and the senior vice president. They chanted slogans against the government and the administration of EPI.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2014.
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