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Nurses observe strike, stage sit-in on The Mall

LAHORE: The Young Nurses Association observed a complete strike in public hospitals in the Punjab on Thursday and held a protest against government for its indifference towards their demands.

The nurses from all the public hospitals, including DHQ and THQ hospitals of Lahore and Multan, gathered in front of the Lahore Press Club at 10am and marched towards the Punjab Assembly. They staged a sit-in at the Faisal Chowk till evening, thus putting pressure on the government to accept their demands.

The nurses said the government had ignored them though they were supporting the healthcare system in hospitals. They said that their colleagues in other districts of the Punjab had also observed complete strike in their hospitals and showed solidarity with the community for fulfillment of their demands. They were holding banners and placards, inscribed with slogans and demands, and also raising slogans against the government.

The nurses demanded the government immediately announce a special pay package covering allowances for mess, uniform, conveyance, medical, etc. “We get Rs500 mess allowance per month, which is not compatible to the sky-rocketing inflation,” they said. They also demanded to announce regularisation of nurses working under contract as well as promotions for senior nurses.

“The senior nurses are being deprived of promotions despite serving the health sector for over 25 years,” they regretted. They condemned the government for wasting money in useless schemes like Sasti Roti, Daanish schools, Aashiana and Yellow Cab schemes. They said the salary packages of doctors and nurses were not compatible despite being in the same grades.

“The doctors are getting up to Rs50,000, while nurses are getting only Rs20,000 in same grades,” they claimed. The nurses also burnt tyres and pelted stones and rotten eggs to express their resentment against the government. The female police also assaulted the nurses for violating the Section-144 against demonstrations on The Mall. The nurses rally and day-long sit-in at the Faisal Chowk badly disrupted the traffic and massive snarl-ups were witnessed on all the adjoining roads and arteries, causing a great deal of inconvenience to pedestrians, commuters and motorists. Besides, the healthcare system was also badly affected in the hospitals as patients could not get the services in absence of a vital component of healthcare in the hospitals.

Meanwhile, no representative of the Punjab government had reached the spot to hold negotiations with the nurses, however, Special Secretary Health Daud Khan Bareach and Mayo Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Zahid Pervaiz held negotiations with them but failed to pacify their anger. The special secretary Health told them that notification of pay protection of contract nurses had been issued. However, he failed to convince them with regard to regularisation and special pay package of nurses.

However, later in the evening, Parliamentary Secretary Health Dr Saeed Elahi held negotiations with the nurses but failed to convince them with his usual rhetoric. The nurses, however, announced to continue their strike and hold a protest demonstration on Friday (today) in favour of their demands.

SHO Civil Lines Abid Rasheed said that no decision had so far been taken with regard to registration of cases against the nurses under any section. The Pakistan Medical Association and Young Doctors Association (YDA) have strongly condemned police torture on nurses who were protesting for their just demands on The Mall.

The PMA and YDA office-bearers and other doctors further said that it was sad to see that the Punjab government had ordered police to manhandle the nurses. The association has also announced the full support to the demands of nurses. Besides, Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa has also taken notice of police torture on the nurses and supported their just demands.
Source: The News

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