Health risk allowance: Paramedical staffers protests against freeze

Threaten to expand protest if finance division does not withdraw notification

Nurses raise slogans at the protest. PHOTO: WASEEM NAZIR/ EXPRESS


Paramedical staff from Islamabad’s government hospitals staged a protest demonstration outside the National Press Club on Saturday against the finance division’s move to freeze their health risk allowances. 

Over 150 paramedical staffers from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Polyclinic, Capital Development Authority Hospital, National Institute of Rehabilitation and Medicine (NIRM), and the National Institute of Health (NIH) staged a protest under the banner of a joint action committee.

On 7 July, the finance division issued a notification under which employees of federal hospitals will stop receiving annual health risk allowances with their basic pay from June 30, 2015.

Muzaffar Ali Rajput, an employee of the NIRM, said that the health risk allowance was approved in 2011 by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on the recommendation of a standing committee. The health risk allowance was available to all hospital employees, regardless of pay grade.

Manzar Abbass Naqvi, the joint action committee chairman and a supervisor at the PIMS computer department, told The Express Tribune that starting today, all hospitals’ employees will wear black armbands during work hours as a peaceful protest.

“We have not yet decided to hold a full protest as that might affect patient welfare, but we will seriously consider this option if the authorities do not withdraw the notice,” he said.

Naqvi claimed that the provision of health risk allowance was important for employees because many health workers and paramedical staff lose their lives by contracting diseases from patients admitted to hospitals.

He said that the joint action committee will announce its next plan of action depending upon the response from the finance division.

The protesters also chanted slogans against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for approving the decision.

The protesting employees also demanded for setting up a regularised procedure to deal with their promotion issues.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.


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