LAHORE   -    Lady health workers staged a sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly on Monday to press for the demands of revised service structure, scale up-gradation and regularisation of ad hoc employees.

As the talks remained inconclusive, the LHWs announced continuing protest till acceptance of all demands.

The LHWs started arriving Faisal Chowk from all over the province in the morning. At noon, the LHWs started a sit-in that continued even till filing of this report late night, causing massive traffic jam in the heart of the city throughout the day.  Carrying placards and banners inscribed with their demands, the protesting LHWs chanted slogans against the health minister and health bureaucracy.

Blockage of The Mall and adjoining roads caused huge inconvenience to commuters. People faced difficulties in getting access to schools for taking children home. People were seen exchanging harsh arguments with protesting LHWs on not getting a way to go to their respective destinations.

The day long protest also annoyed traders. The shopkeepers complained about losing business due to frequent protests. They urged the government to ensure implementation on the already taken decision regarding ban on such protests at The Mall.

President LHWs Rukhsana Anwar said that the protest would continue till acceptance of all demands. “We are still living in old Pakistan. We are ready to spend night under open sky along with small kids. We will not take back even a single step till acceptance of our all legitimate demands. We can continue protest even till March 23 if needed,” she said.

Delegation of Young Doctors Association (YDA) headed by President Punjab chapter Dr Shoaib Tarrar and General Secretary Dr Salman Haseeb visited Faisal Chowk to express solidarity with the protesting LHWs.

Dr Shoaib Tarrar assured the protesting LHWs full support to their legitimate demands. He accused the health minister of adopting improper attitude with the protesters. He said that it was a pity that daughters of the nation were on roads demanding legitimate rights. He urged the government to resolve the issue at the earliest and avoid taking the situation to point of no return.

Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid said that protest was uncalled for as the government had already taken steps for improving life of LHWs. She said that the sit-in was merely aimed at gaining cheap political mileage. She said that all the genuine demands have already been acknowledged and Punjab was the first province to award service benefits to the LHWs and Lady Health Supervisors (LHSs). She said that the government has already released Rs480 million for pension and grant for heirs of LHWs died during service. She said that more than 45000 LHWs and 2000 LHSs had already been promoted in next grade. She said that the process had already been completed for recruiting 13,000 LHWs on regular basis.

After 2009, the minister said, such recruitment would be made for the first time in the history of the province.