ISLAMABAD: While the government has been trying to create job opportunities and reduce unemployment, the management of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has terminated services of 500 daily wage employees and labourers.

Moreover, an additional 200 daily wage employees have been sacked and rehired due to which they have lost their scales, designations and experiences.

A spokesperson for the university said the employees have been sacked on the direction of the IIUI executive council, and claimed that they would be considered for future appointments.

It may be mentioned that during the Covid-19 pandemic the government had appealed even to the private sector not to terminate services of their employees even though most of them such as factories were either closed or facing productivity shortfalls.

One of the employees of the IIUI, Shafiullah Khan Mehsud, told Dawn that they had been working in the university for about two decades but were suddenly informed that they had been terminated.

200 other daily wagers sacked and rehired as labourers

He said 80pc of the permanent employees were those who had once worked in the university as daily wagers or on contracts. There was a policy to regularise employees in Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 2 to 14. Out of the 500 employees, who have been terminated, 300 were daily wagers and 200 labourers.

He said 93 of the sacked employees were working in the regional offices of the IIUI. Moreover, 200 daily wagers have been told to work as labourers. This decision of the university has deprived them of their scales and designations.

He said even MPhil degree holders were appointed as labourers due to which their experiences would not be counted.

“Around six years ago, the employees had filed cases in a civil court seeking regularisation of their services and the court gave a decision in their favour. The civil court also ordered the university to give all benefits to the employees from the date of their appointment. But the university challenged the decision in Islamabad High Court (IHC). The IHC also gave a decision in favour of the employees.

However, the university approached the Supreme Court which again gave a decision in favour of the employees. The apex court, however, ruled that the employees should be considered as fresh appointments. The university regularised 35 of the employees and refused to regularise the others.

“We went to the IHC for implementation of the decision and last hearing of the matter was held in March this year after which the university was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the date of hearing in the IHC has been fixed on September 17, but we have been sacked,” Mr Mehsud said.

A female employee, who wished not to be quoted, said the university management regularised some of the employees and ignored others.

“It cannot be said that those who were regularised were competent as there are precedents that some employees were appointed on the same date and had same qualifications but one of them was regularised and the other was ignored,” she said.

“We are already facing severe financial problems due to the Covcid-19 pandemic and the decision of the university management has increased them. We appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan to look into the issue because he speaks about employment and creating job opportunities,” she said.

When contacted, AIOU spokesperson Dr Bakht Rawan told Dawn that the employees were terminated on the direction of the university’s executive council.

“Terminated employees can apply for jobs which will be advertised in future and additional marks will be given to them as they have experience. Moreover, we have reappointed around 200 employees who were terminated,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2020