KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday directed the chief secretary to work out financial impact on the provincial kitty if doctors’ salaries were brought at a par with their counterparts in Punjab.
The CM’s move was taken as his approval of the pay raise as being demanded by protesting doctors of the provincial government’s health facilities.
However, in their immediate reaction, Young Doctors Association president Umer Sultan said it seemed to be delaying tactics, and said his organisation would continue with its protest plan until a notification to this effect, as was promised by the Sindh government, was issued by the given deadline, ie Tuesday evening.
The CM has directed Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah to work out the financial impact and submit his report to him so that it could be put up in the next meeting of the provincial cabinet for approval.
Mr Shah told the chief secretary that the Punjab government had undertaken the impact assessment exercise before taking a decision to raise doctors’ salaries in that province. “We need to ensure that our doctors get a remuneration that is at a par with their Punjab counterparts,” he conveyed to the chief secretary.
It is learnt that the chief secretary has passed on the CM’s instruction to the officials concerned of the health department asking them to prepare the requisite financial impact report.
YDA sticks to protest plan terming the move ‘delaying tactics’
YDA chairman Dr Sultan said that the protest plan unveiled at the Feb 9 press conference at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) would remain unchanged until issuance of the notification.
He recalled that CM’s Adviser on Information and Law Murtaza Wahab had 10 days ago promised that the notification would be issued within the next three days but this did not happen till date.
The Sindh chapter of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) supports YDA’s demand and believes that the health department is using delaying tactics in the issuance of the notification. It alleges that the health authorities were not serious in keeping their word and honouring their commitment with the YDA.
The YDA and PMA say they were compelled to go for boycott of duties and strike due to the government’s “indifferent” attitude towards their grievance.
They maintain that the health authorities had assured young doctors that their demands would be met and that a summary in this regard would be sent to the chief minister for approval. On their assurance, the strike and boycott were called off, they say.
Speaking to the media on Monday, Dr Sultan said: “Although we were not shown the summary, we accepted the assurances held out by the health minister and secretary as well as the adviser but they have failed to keep their word”.
He said the YDA would resume its boycott of all health services from Wednesday if the notification was not issued by Tuesday evening. “Young doctors will not only observe a boycott of OPDs but also stay away from their duties in wards and surgeries in operating theatres across the province,” he added.
HYDERABAD: Sindh Doctors Joint Action Committee — mainly headed by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) — has warned the Sindh government that if all of its demands are not met by Tuesday (today), then they will observe a boycott of duties at all Sindh government-run hospitals from Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference at the local press club on Monday, PMA general secretary Dr Pir Manzoor, accompanied by Dr Gulzar Jumani, Dr Abid Qaimkhani, Dr Roshan Chandio and others, said that barring emergency operation and duties, no services would be provided by doctors during the protest.
The joint action committee comprises representatives of PMA, YDA and Special Doctors Forum (SDF).
He reminded the provincial government that doctors had already observed a strike from Jan 28 to 30 for the acceptance of their demands. During the strike, he added, work at outpatient departments had remained suspended. Besides pay raise, the protesting doctors demanded an end to corruption in the health department, he said.
Dr Manzoor regretted that when doctors raised their voice for their demands, they faced vindictive actions on the part of the government. Doctors were either transferred to far-flung areas or faced other sorts of vindictive action, he alleged.
He said regardless of “vindictive actions”, doctors would snatch their rights. He said such actions compelled doctors to go for a boycott, otherwise they believed in peaceful struggle. “If government seriously decided to resolve their problems, such a situation could be avoided,” said the PMA leader.
He ruled out any talks with government on their demands. He referred to the chief minister’s statement he had made on the floor of the Sindh Assembly, and said it was entirely different from what doctors were given to understand previously.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2019