IQTIDAR GILANI  - Leady health officials Tuesday called off their two day sit-in for salaries and regularisation after a government team assured them of getting their problems fixed.

Hundreds of Lady Health Workers and Lady Health Supervisors continued their sit-in outside Punjab Assembly on the second day.

Although strength of protesting LHWs and LHSs decreased considerably after a group of Lahore dissociated itself from the demo the previous day, the determined ladies vowed to continue with struggle until issuance of notification of regularisation, increase in allowances and payment of outstanding salaries.

The protesting LHWs and LHSs went on hunger-strike in the afternoon as the government refused to budge. Dozens of protesters were hospitalised after fainting.

Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, civil society workers, Young Doctors Association representatives and Punjab Paramedics Alliance showed up at the demo site to show their solidarity with protesters.

After the negotiations failed the last day, the Punjab government released Rs350 million as bridge financing for payment of last month salaries to protesting officials – apparently an attempt to show seriousness over the matter.

The Health Department assured the protesting ladies that the salaries would be disbursed positively within a week. After this confidence building measure, the government team – comprising Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq, Parliamentary Secretary Health Kh Imran Nazir, MPA Shahbaz Ahmed, Secretary Health Babar Hayat Tarar and Director General of Health Dr Zahid Pervaiz – talked to the leadership of protesting LHWs and LHSs in the evening.

Rukhsana Anwar, Noreen Munawar and others agreed to call off sit-in after the government team pledged to complete the process of regularisation of around 50,000 LHWs, LHSs and allied staff till April 30.

The team assured the protesting ladies that the government would carry out necessary legislation in the next assembly session. They promised that the LHWs and LHSs would receive first salary as regular employees for March.

Unlike the previous day, when police blocked The Mall from Masjid-e-Shuhada to Al-Hamra, the protesting LHWs and LHSs were confined to Faisal Chowk, allowing traffic to pass on Cooper Road.

Closure of Faisal Chowk and Shah-e-Fatima Jinnah from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to The Mall caused diversion of traffic on adjoining roads that led to massive traffic jam throughout the day.