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Pakistan: Nurses Strike for Rights

16 March 2014

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[16 March 2014: Hundreds of nurses are still occupying Lahore main Mall Road Lahore. They are demanding permanent jobs instead of adhoc appointments. Yesterday police had lathi charged the but nurses fought back. Today most of the trade union sand political parties came to express solidarity. Punjab government has not yet accepted their demands and nurses has announced to continue struggle. All Pakistan Para Medical Staff Federation and young doctors are here to be with them. See report below from Pakistan Today, an editorial from Daily Times and URLS to other reports]

Pakistan Today

That is not permanent enough for nurses

Lahore
BY STAFF REPORT

As government announces three-year extension in contracts of ad-hoc nurses, nurses continue sit-in, say it’s not enough
Nurses’ representative says they do not trust government, demand nothing less than regularisation

Nurses’ prayers were partially answered Saturday when the government offered them a three-year extension in their service contracts, however, till the filing of this report, they denied ending the protest at Charring Cross in the city, demanding an “absolutely permanent” place in the Health Department.

The announcement came as their violence-marred protest entered its sixth day. Nurses have been protesting against the Health Department for firing those who had been working on ad-hoc basis and for the regularisation of their services.

As per the government’s announcement made by Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique, the nurses will be required to pass the Public Service Commission (PSC) exams at the end of the three-year contract to become eligible for a permanent post.

Rafique had proposed that in the event that the nurses under this contract fail to pass PCS exam, their contract will stand dissolved at the end of the three years.

However, after observing that the nurses were not buying the deal, the government representative assured the nurses that they will be given a permanent place upon the termination of their three-year contract.

‘FALSE HOPES’:

To government’s disappointment, nurses denied relying on the hope of a permanent place after three years and termed the proposition a “false hope”.

Unfettered despite Friday’s police baton-charge and unmoved by the government’s ‘positive’ gesture, nurses refused to give up until the ‘complete’ acceptance of their demands and continued their peaceful sit-in throughout the day.

Responding to the government’s move, a representative of nurses, while talking to the journalists, said that they did not trust the government for regularising them after the termination of three-year contract.

“We are not asking for land cruisers or plots; all we want is our rights and the government is powerful enough to grant them. They had earlier promised regularisation to Ganga Ram nurses as well but did not grant them. We will not buy their proposal and continue our protest till the government regularises us,” she said.

STANDING UNITED:

On the other hand, nurses of the government hospitals in different cities of Punjab on Saturday morning also stopped working in support of the ad-hoc nurses’ sit-in.

Sources said that the Rawalpindi Allied Hospital and HolyFamilyHospital emergency nurses observing protest strike stayed away from their duties causing immense problem for the patients.

Nurses in Multan have also been protesting for the last five days, while the attendants of the patients in Children Complex are being irked by strike.

Moreover, Faisalabad’s civil and allied hospitals and Institute of Cardiology’s OPDs are also closed on account of a strike.

Vehari and Bhakkar nurses also staged protest, while the nurses of BhawalnagarDistrictHeadquarterHospital and BhawalpurVictoriaHospital staged sit-in outside the hospitals. Besides, Rahimyar Khan SheikhZaidHospital nurses are also observing a strike.

In the city on Friday, a group of nurses staged a sit-in in front of the office of the nursing director general. They later rallied to The Mall to sit-in in front of the Punjab Assembly, where a session was in progress. On seeing them advance towards The Mall, where protests are banned under Section 144, women police were called to stop them. Some nurses scuffled with the policewomen when they were stopped near Charring Cross.

Police baton charged the nurses to disperse them. The baton charge continued for over 10 minutes.

Resultantly, two nurses were injured. One of them was later identified as Amina, reported to be seven-month pregnant. They were taken to SirGangaRamHospital, where Amina was said to be in critical condition.

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Daily Times 16 March 2014

Editorial: Beat terrorism, not nurses

The shameful manner in which the Punjab police dealt with a peaceful protest by nurses in front of the Punjab Assembly on Friday calls into question the raison d’être of the institution and its policies. Police baton-charged a group of nurses protesting the expiry of their contracts at various hospitals and demanding permanent employment. The brutal charge led to vicious beatings as the nurses rightly resisted an encroachment on their fundamental right to peaceful public assembly. Ten nurses were jailed overnight without charge, some were shifted to hospitals with serious injuries, none more serious than a seven months pregnant nurse, whose life and unborn child remain in danger from the excessive beating she received. The most gruesome aspect of the entire shambles was the behaviour of women police officers, who waded in with cudgels, pulling hair, and knocking nurses to the ground with savage pleasure and no empathy for their feminine compatriots. Is this what the Punjab police is meant to do? Beat peaceful and defenceless young women into unconsciousness or death in violation of their rights? Sadly, the structure, policies and history of the Punjab police point to the fact that this is exactly what they are meant to do. A descendant of the colonial police and organised around many of the same principles for suppressing public dissent, the institution’s barbaric nature is revealed on a daily basis. Earlier this week a young woman was forced to kill herself because police officers took no action against a group of men she alleged had raped her. In fact, most citizens assume that bringing a case to the police will hurt them more than not doing so.
Friday’s events also show the indifference of politicians and officials to the welfare of citizens, and their inability to fulfil the basic requirements of governance. This is not the first time health workers have protested ad hoc arrangements. In 2012, young doctors across the Punjab protested similar treatment, and the issue was never fully resolved. The nurses protesting on the Mall for the past week have simple demands; they want their contractual agreements with government hospitals to pave the way for permanent employment, benefits and proper salaries. Many of them have worked on contract for six or seven years. The government demands they sit for examinations under the Punjab Public Services Commission. The range of solutions to the problem is virtually endless. A professional review board could be constituted to individually assess nurses, sifting those who should sit for examinations from those who are experienced enough to bypass them. Certain contracts could be extended, pay raises given across the board or in a phased manner according to each hospital’s need. None of these measures were considered. Instead the police was cut loose on protestors to do what they do best. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident, so we will watch keenly if he follows through on his promise to punish the errant police officials and resolve the nurses’ issues.

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Lahore: Nurses refuse to end protest
http://www.geo.tv/article-141260-Lahore-Nurses-refuse-to-end-protest-

Healthcare services in disarray after strike of nurses
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-238557-Healthcare-services-in-disarray-after-strike-of-nurses

Nurses on strike today
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-5-237356-Nurses-on-strike-today

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