The Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEAs) working under Programme Management and Implementation Unit (PMIU) of the Punjab government continued their strike against the discriminatory structure of their salaries, misbehaviour of bosses and non-payment of arrears here in the district.

Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEAs) working under the PMIU have been on strike for the past one week. They staged a protest in front of DCO office against the discriminatory structure of their salaries and alleged misbehaviour of District Monitoring Officer Chiniot.

It is to be noted that the MEAs were recruited from retired personnel of armed forces in the PMIU created in the Punjab Government in July 2006. They were tasked with improving attendance of schoolteachers and staff in public sector schools and improve quality of education through regular visits. A post of District Monitoring Officer (DMO) was also created under whom the MEAs work at district level. Their basic pay was fixed as Rs8,000 along with motorcycles and petrol.

Later on, their salary was increased in 2007 and 08 budgets and but it was fixed at Rs10,322 in 30-11-2011 and they were asked to claim their arrears for the past increments. Later on, the salary was increased to Rs12,856 in July 2012. But in many districts they were given annual increments equal to increase in salaries of government employees and have been increased more than Chiniot district employees. MEAs of Toba Tek Singh were drawing 16,009; Faisalabad 14,561; Gujranwala 16,473; Jhang 14,856; Layyah 15,723; Multan 16,750 and in many districts more than that.

Therefore the MEAs in Chiniot district get perturbed due to the discriminatory attitude of the DMO Chiniot who did not increase their salaries according as per other districts. Moreover, they also complained about the harsh behaviour and non-payment of their arrears since many years.

Ghulam Mustafa Sambhal, President Punjab MEAs Association District Chiniot, told this correspondent that all 14 MEAs of Chiniot had devoted their youth to the defence of motherland and now working to improve standard of education, adding that they were being treated like slaves by the officers concerned. “Our salaries had not been increased according to annual increase in government employees salaries while many other districts had increased it. Moreover, arrears worth hundreds of thousands rupees were pending at DMO office which are not being cleared,” they blamed.

Moreover, they were sent to Lahore; Faisalabad and other cities for various official assignments but not a single rupee is paid as TA/DA while DMO himself drew TA/DA of Rs52,000. MEAs also complained of harsh behaviour of DMO and non-provision of stationary to them for which they spend hundreds of rupees from their pocket in this head. Two of MEAs have neither official motorcycles nor being given petrol but they are performing duties on their own bikes.

They demanded provision of motorcycles or at least petrol for work.

MEAs said they will continue strike till their demands of equal salary to other districts and payment of arrears is met.

Meanwhile, DMO Chiniot Ansar Kamal Sial told that MEAs salary was fixed at Rs12,856. On their complaint, he wrote a letter to Secretary Education Schools for clarification and guidelines. The Secretary office categorically cleared their salary is same as being paid. He told that he checked from 18 other districts paying salaries equal to him while some DMOs have increased salary at their own in some districts. Regarding arrears, he clarified that these belonged to time period when Jhang was district and he was not Drawing and Disbursing officer.

Now the work of monitoring of schools and Hospitals is closed for one week and MEAs vowed to continue it till their demands met.  They appealed to the Punjab CM to look into discriminatory structure of their salaries and rationalise their salaries in view of the rising inflation.