–Protesting engineers demand technical allowance, better service rules and improvement in salary structure
–Demonstration called off after govt promises to form committee on service structure reforms
LAHORE: Demanding technical allowance, better service rules and improvement in the salary structure, members of the Pakistan Association of Government Engineers (PAGE) blocked The Mall here on Wednesday for a day-long protest.
The protest was later called off as PAGE President Waqas Javed announced that the Punjab government promised to fulfil their demands. “Government has vowed to form a committee to address the issue of service structure,” he said during a press conference, thanking PM Imran Khan and CM Usman Buzdar over their cooperation.
Earlier, the rally started from the Communication and Works Department Office and ended at the Charing Cross of the major artery where protesters from different government departments participated, including WASA, WAPDA, irrigation, C&W, public health, local government and others. They held placards and banners to demand the fulfilment of their “just rights”.
While talking to Pakistan Today, Zainab Fatima, an engineer from the irrigation department, complained that their association had been demanding these rights for a long time, but the “government has no policy for the upgradation of our salaries and positions.”
Fatima was of the view that technical allowance is given in other provinces but the engineers in Punjab faced a completely different situation. “A couple of months ago we staged a symbolic protest with ribbons on our sleeves but nobody gave us any attention to that [quiet] protest,” she argued when asked whether they initially used a proper channel to address their grievances.
She warned that the association will not end the protest until “the government issues a notification regarding our demands”.
Another engineer, Ajmal Khan from the C&W Department, told Pakistan Today, “The protest is happening across the province because the government has never given any importance to the engineers. There are allowances for judges, doctors and other government official and bureaucracy but no one ever thought about the engineers.”
“The government should reconsider its neglecting behaviour towards the engineers and encourage this community otherwise talented people are being motivated to leave the country or this field. The engineers are being ignored in this province and that is why the learned ones are settling in abroad to earn respect and better salaries,” he remarked.
Another protester Habibur Rehman while showing his distress over the condition of engineering professionals working in the government sector said, “We had high hopes from the new PTI government but they too have disappointed us. The new government seems to have no plans or strategies for employment and the people suffer from different problems.”
Rahat Jabeen, another government engineers, regretted that many of her colleagues were shifting to the private sector out of despair.
Punjab Minister for Irrigation Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari while talking to Pakistan Today said, “We are paying all our attention to the matters and demands of the engineers. We will try our best to fulfil these demands.”
He urged the engineers to wait patiently as the government has to follow a certain procedure in order to make changes in the service rules and salary structure. “We have requested the protesters not to hamper the city life,” he commented.
The protest, however, caused a heavy traffic jam in the city with day-to-day business activities hampered by the blockage.