ISLAMABAD: Despite the issuance of a stay order by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), 55 sacked employees of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) are still uncertain about their restoration.

The university’s management also called police last week to stop the dismissed employees from holding a sit-in outside the university premises.

In the first week of August, the management terminated 500 employees from their services, who were working under the daily-wage and labourer categories.

An additional 200 employees, working as daily-wagers, were dismissed and rehired as labourers due to which they were deprived of scales, designations and their experience will not counted in future.

The services of these employees were terminated at a time when the government had appealed to employers, even in the private sector, to not remove anyone from service due to the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

One of the employees, Shafiullah Khan Mehsud, told Dawn that some of the dismissed employees had been working at the university for the past two decades and they were suddenly informed that their services were no longer required.

He said they had been staging a peaceful sit-in outside the university, which continued for 43 days.

“We were hoping that the government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf will listen to us as the party also held a sit-in for 126 days. However, last week the university management called police who arrested male and female protesters and shifted them to Industrial Area Police Station. Police officials directed us to give an undertaking, that we will not hold a sit-in in front of the university to avoid registration of a first information report.

The protesters were so frightened that they gave the undertaking and the next day had to go in front of National Press Club to hold the protest,” he said.

He said on Sept 10, an IHC bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, issued a stay order in favour of the employees.

“However, as there was no representation of the university we are not sure if the university will implement the decision on Monday [today]. The next date of hearing is Sept 17 and the court has also directed the university to appear in the court,” he said.

A female employee said the families of all sacked employees were facing severe financial problems.

“We request the decision makers to intervene and play their role for the restoration of sacked employees,” she said.

The spokesperson for AIOU could not be reached despite several attempts.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2020