Nurses protesting for salaries told to call off strike

Published November 21, 2023
Nurses hold placards during their protest at Pims on Monday for the release of their salaries. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Nurses hold placards during their protest at Pims on Monday for the release of their salaries. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: The nurses at the Pakistan Insitute of Medical Sciences (Pims), who have been on strike since November 6 against the non-payment of their salaries for the past four months, have been told by the hospital’s executive director to call off the protest to facilitate patients.

The nursing staff was recruited under the Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Act during the PTI government, but after the coalition government led by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif came to power, it rolled back the law. However, these nurses were retained on a contract basis. After their contracts expired in June 2023, their salaries were also halted but they were still performing duties at the hospital.

A spokesperson for the executive director said ED Prof Dr Imran Sikandar approached the health ministry seeking a one-year extension in the tenure of at least 248 nurses.

“The matter was referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan through the Establishment Division, but the commission rejected the request,” said Dr Mubashir Daha. Subsequently, the hospital asked the ministry to allow them to pay their salaries from the hospital funds but this request has not been approved yet, added Dr Daha.

He further said that the Pims management would not tolerate ‘blackmailing’ by the nursing staff as the management has “made best possible efforts” to provide relief to nurses. He said that Pims ED would not compromise on the treatment and care of patients under any circumstances.

“Therefore, all these nurses on strike are warned to return to work as there will be no compromise on problems of the patients,” he said.

Dr Daha said that the management of the hospital was responsible for running the hospital affairs efficiently, adding that ‘blackmailing’ by the Federal Medical Teaching Institution (FMTI) nurses was not acceptable in any case. He added that thousands of patients were facing problems due to the protest of nurses.

He also claimed the Pims management held meetings with nurses’ representatives to sort out the issue. Dr Daha, however, said there was only Rs10 million in the FMTI budget, whereas Rs120 million was required for the payment of salaries to the protesting nurses. He said Dr Imran Sikandar sought approval from the health ministry to pay the salaries from the Pims budget and after getting approval, the salaries would also be disbursed.

The spokesperson claimed that due to the strike by the nurses, the Pims ED has planned to procure the services of nurses from private institutions, for which MoUs had been signed as well.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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