Pakistan News

At least 200 Pims staffers without salaries for months

ISLAMABAD: Over 200 employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), who were appointed under the defunct Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Act, have not received their salaries since the start of this year.

Employees, which include 44 professors, associate professors, assistant professors and casualty medical officers, 168 charge nurses, and six members of the management committee have been working without pay since the act was repealed.

Executive Director (ED) Pims Dr Naeem Malik said that he wanted to pay the salaries to the staff, as the budget was available, but the health ministry stopped the hospital from payments. He added that he was in favour of retaining the employees and efforts were underway to retain them.

Health secretary claims salaries for employees hired under repealed law to be released soon

Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Special Secretary Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood said that initially contracts will be given to the employees and then they will be regularised through Federal Public Services Commission (FPSC) exam. However, he said that salaries will be released soon, as there was a provision to appoint employees to remove the difficulties faced by the hospital.

MTI Act and job security

In November 2020, President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated the MTI Ordinance under which the Pims was to be run through a board of governors (BoG). Even though employees protested against the ordinance, it sailed through parliament. Later on, some appointments were made under MTI Act 2021.

After it came to power, the PDM government passed the MTI Repeal Bill and sent it to the president to get his nod but Dr Alvi returned it with a suggestion to reconsider it. So, the government was left with no choice but to pass the bill again in a joint session to make it an act of parliament. The bill was again passed on December 20, 2022, in a joint sitting.

After the legislation repealed the MTI act, the 200 employees, who were appointed in light of the defunct law, got their salaries in December and were allowed to continue working on the condition that they would be reappointed on a contract basis. However, they have not been paid since then.

According to a document, available with Dawn, the Pims executive director asked the NHS secretary that since the MTI Act has been repealed the hospital should be advised if salaries for the month of January onwards would be paid to the employees. An employee who was appointed under MTI, requesting not to be quoted, said that the doctors/staff, recruited under MTI Act 2021, have been deprived of their salaries.

“Pims admin says it has sent the case to the health ministry. It is a grave injustice to purposely delay the salaries of the employees amid soaring inflation and Ramazan,” he said, adding that the fate of doctors is in limbo after the law was repealed.

“The health ministry says it will change the status of employees by providing them with a two-year contract in June 2023. The ministry wrongly interprets the new law which is silent about such a proposal,” he said.

He further claimed that changing the status of the doctors/staff or terminating their services was against Article 264 of the General Clauses 1897 Act and the contents of the agreement signed between employees and administration. “We appeal to the prime minister and chief justice to take notice,” he added.

ED Pims Dr Naeem Malik told Dawn that he had written a letter to the health ministry and also held two meetings to address the issue of salaries.

“I want to retain the employees and that is why I have also prepared an advertisement and shared it with the ministry. I will talk to the ministry again to address the issue on a priority basis,” he said.

Special Secretary Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood said that the ministry did not lay off the employees after the act was repealed and added that efforts were underway to find a solution to address the issue.

“We have been considering appointing them on a contract basis and then regularising them through the FPSC. We value these employees and will retain them; they need not worry,” he assured.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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