GILGIT (ET): Nursing staff in Gilgit has announced boycotting the polio vaccination drive scheduled to be launched across Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Tuesday.
Taken a day ahead of the drive, the decision is meant to press the government to regularise services of nearly 1,500 staff members based in seven districts of the region. “Regularisation of our services was due in June 2012, but it hasn’t happened as yet,” complained a nurse who attended a staff meeting held at a local hotel.
“We have come to the conclusion that our issue will never be looked at seriously if we continue working silently,” she said while requesting anonymity. “We have decided to call a protest rally and will lay siege to the chief minister’s office and assembly building till the acceptance of our demands.”
Attended by nurses from all valleys of the region, the staff meeting was convened to chalk out an action plan to make the protest effective.
It is estimated that the boycott will result in the exclusion of 200,000 children below the age of five in the anti-polio drive. However, the staff believes the time is suitable to get their demands accepted, since the authorities can in no way afford to let the vaccination campaign be derailed.
G-B Minister for Health Gulbahar Khan put the blame on “a few” trying to sabotage the understanding reached previously. “We had met with their (nurses) representatives earlier and agreed to end the boycott,” Khan told The Express Tribune. “But there are a few who are provoking others to go on strike,” he said, without specifying who they were.
Khan said an official order will soon be issued to regularise the services of these nurses, besides adjusting their pay from June 2012. He, however, warned of strict action against those politicising the issue for personal gains