KARACHI   -   Teaching at Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC) on Wednesday remained suspended for the 17th consecutive day after protest from the faculty members of the varsity, run under the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, and students for separate reasons.

The teaching and non-teaching staff of the college on Wednesday entered its protest into the second phase and observed a token hunger strike against their unpaid salaries for three months.

Prof Dr Fareeda Islam, a member of the KMDC’s Teachers Action Committee and the head of the pharmacology department of the college, said: “Faculty has not been paid since the last three months, due to which they have no other option but to protest against the administration.”

“We have only received salary of a month and still awaiting our dues for the three months,” she said adding that due to the ongoing protest there had been no academic activities at the KMDC for 17 days and the faculty members had also been boycotting OPDs at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, which is the teaching hospital for the KMDC.

“The overall salary expense of the college that has around 330 employees including teaching and non-teaching staff is Rs 550 million,” she said adding that around Rs 300 million is provided by the Sindh government but they were yet to receive it.

“Our only demand is from the Mayor Karachi to look into the affairs as the college serves the major health facility under KMC that is Abbasi Shaheed Hospital,” she said and added they want release of salaries rather than assurances from the authorities.

“We have entered our protest in next phase and would continue our hunger strike on daily basis unless our demands for payment of timely salaries for the BPS-17 to BPS-21 doctors and regularization of non-teaching staff in BPS-1 to BPS-16 are accepted.” Moreover, the suspension of the classes in the college has also created uncertainty among the students.

A first year MBBS student at the college, Taha Khan, said that they were facing suspension of classes for more than a month and now the scheduled time for their papers had also passed.

“We are not sure of what is happening and what will happen to our future as neither there are classes nor papers,” he said adding that even the students who visit Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for their out patient duties (OPDs) have stopped performing their duties.

He also expressed concern over increase in fee structure for the students and said that students from middle class families are enrolled in the college and were unable to bear any untimely increase in the fee structure from the college to fulfill its expenditures.

Responding on the issues, the spokesman for Mayor Karachi claimed that the college administration assured that the situation was under control after the issuance of a salary to the faculty members. “There is no hunger strike as they had agreed to our assurances,” claimed the spokesman and added that the delay in salaries was not an issue as it would be resolved and the remaining salaries would be given to the employees sooner or later.