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Lady health workers’ sit-in protest outside Parliament enters day 6

Members of Lady Health Workers are holding protest demonstration against price hike and anti-labour policies of the federal government, at D Chowk in Islamabad on Monday, October 19, 2020. — PPI

ISLAMABAD: Lady health workers, staging a sit-in protest outside the Parliament, refuse to leave even on the sixth day until their demands — increase in monthly pay and improvement in employment structure — are not met.

Over 500 women, some with young children, have been sleeping out in the open on D-Chowk road in Islamabad since Wednesday, when they arrived in the federal capital from across Pakistan as part of a larger protest by government employees against rising inflation.

While the other organizations left the same day, the lady healthcare workers stayed, who are tasked to run vaccination campaigns in the country, and were recently mobilized to fight COVID-19, stayed on.

“We will not leave until the government listens to us,” Rukhsana Anwar, a lady healthcare worker, told, “At the moment we are organizing ourselves, increasing our numbers, after which we will march towards the parliament to be heard.”

There are a total of 100,000 lady health care workers in the country, adds Anwar.

In the last five days, those who came to the protest to negotiate with the protesters included Ali Muhammad Khan, the state minister for parliamentary affairs, Dr Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, and officials of the Islamabad administration.

All negotiations broke down after the women were told their demands can only be met by the provincial government and not the Centre.

“We want our pay scales to be increased,” said one lady health worker. “Some of these women have been working at the same grade without a promotion and a pay of less than Rs.20,000 per month for several years now.”

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