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Pims employees call off strike on govt’s assurance

February 23, 2019

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Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani speaks to protesters at Pims on Friday. — INP
Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani speaks to protesters at Pims on Friday. — INP

ISLAMABAD: The employees of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Friday called off their strike after the government assured them that they would be taken into confidence on any new legislation to run the hospital through a board of governors (BOG).

The employees had been staging protests after closing down the outpatient department (OPD) of the hospital for two hours daily against the proposed legislation.

The protesters on Thursday announced that they would completely close down the OPD on Friday after the hospital management suspended three of their colleagues.

Over 10,000 patients daily visit the OPD of the hospital. Sensing the gravity of the situation, Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani reached the hospital to convince the protesters to call off their strike. The minster also issued directives for restoration of the suspended employees.

The minister assured the employees that the proposed legislation would be made in consultation with them and no steps would be taken against the wishes of the employees.

The three employees had been suspended and show-cause notices issued to them for their harsh stance against the proposed legislation in front of the minister.

Minister says a committee representing employees will be formed to assist govt in preparing draft to run hospital through BoG

The protest started when the government made a move to run the hospital through a board of governors (BOG). The proposed board will have representation from parliament, health and financial experts.

But the minister on Friday told the employees that before finalising the draft, he would listen to the concerns of the employees and take them on board.

The protesters did not listen to their executive director (ED) and told the minister that they would only listen to him.

Earlier, when the minister accompanied by the ED Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood tried to hold a meeting with the protesters, the latter refused.

However, when the minister came to the hospital alone on Friday, the protesting employees agreed to meet him and assured him of their cooperation.

Mr Kiani said there was some misunderstanding as the employees thought that a new ordinance had been passed. In fact, he added, it is only under consideration. He assured the employees that their rights would be protected and a five-member committee representing the employees would be notified which would assist the government in preparing the draft.

He said the government wanted to make Pims one of the best hospitals of the country.

After the minister’s assurance, Pims Employees’ Association President Dr Asfandyar Khan announced to call off the strike.

He told mediapersons that the minister had promised that rights of employees would be protected and that the new initiative would not convert the hospital into a private entity.

The minister also ordered restoration of the three suspended employees, he added.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2019