Islamabad - Employees of five federal government hospitals started a token strike on Tuesday against freezing of the health risk allowance by the finance division.

The employees will hold a protest demonstration against the decision in front of National Press Club today (Wednesday).

“Freezing of the allowance is deplorable but freezing the health allowances for the employees of the health sector is complete injustice, as they are the one who are exposed to severe risks,” Doctor Sartaj, chairman joint action committee, told The Nation. All the staff of the federal government hospitals including doctors, nurses, paramedics and others have been on token strike since August 3, and wearing black ribbons around their arms.

“It is unfair because employees working in the hospitals are exposed to various dangerous diseases including hepatitis B and C and injuries from needles or sharp instruments and TB etc. It is the government’s responsibility to take care for their lives and health,” he said.

The health risk allowance was approved by the PPP government in 2011, after a 35-day protest at D-Chowk Islamabad by the employees of the federal government hospitals.

According to the decision of the PPP government, the health risk allowance should also be increased to match the increase in basic salary but the incumbent government has frozen the allowance instead of increasing it, he said.

The present government in the budget 2015-16 has frozen the allowances which is affecting the earning of the employees, he maintained. According the notification issued by finance division, all special pays allowances or the allowances admissible as percentage of pay including house rent allowance and the allowance/special allowance equal to one month basic pay, granted to federal government employees shall stand frozen at the level of admissibility as on June 30, 2015.

He said that the salary of the grade-17 employee has been increased to around Rs 2500, as the government has increased salaries by 7.5 per cent, but the allowance on basic pay has been decreased by Rs 7,000, which is totally against the policy implemented by the previous government.

The joint action committee, which is the focal body of all the five federal hospitals, has decided a protest demonstration today (Wednesday) and the protest will continue till the demands are accepted, he maintained adding, “From tomorrow onwards we will daily demonstrate for one hour.” About 9,000 to 10,000 employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Polyclinic, Capital Hospital, Federal Government General Hospital and National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine are part of the move, Dr Sartaj informed.