The protest of nurses across Sindh entered its ninth consecutive day on Friday.
Nurses from different public hospitals in the province have been staging a sit-in, demanding the Sindh government issue a notification for the promises it had made to them about certain allowances and stipends.
In Karachi, the nurses had threatened to march from their sit-in at the press club to the Sindh Assembly building to get an official notification from the local government.
They were marching with banners of the Sindh Nursing Alliance. Slogans written on the banners included a demand to issue the notification for promotion under the four-tier formula, a professional healthcare allowance and a stipend of Rs25,000 for nursing students.
“We only demand our legal rights. Nurses in other provinces have these rights. Why doesn’t a nurse in Sindh have them?” asked Rafia Gulzar, a nurse from the Sindh Services Hospital. She added that nurses were the backbone of a hospital and without them, hospitals would not receive patients.
“Earlier, we had only closed the wards. But since yesterday, we have boycotted operation theatres, critical care units and surgical ICUs too,” said Fazal Riaz Bhutto, a nurse from Larkana.
Commenting on patients being deprived of care in the hospitals, the nurses said it was the Sindh government’s responsibility.
“The Sindh government agrees to demands by doctors in two days because they’re relatives of government officials. We are from the middle class and they don’t listen to us,” added Bhutto.
“We have nurses who have been working for 30 plus years under these unfair conditions,” lamented Farhat from Civil Hospital, Karachi.
But not everyone at the protest was sure why they were even there.
Nurses from the civil hospitals in Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad did not elaborate on their demands. They only said what was happening to them was wrong. When their ‘leaders’ would announce, they would just move forward with them.
Limopani stalls and water bottle carts were also moving along with the crowd. Every once in a while, a few women from the protesting group would stop to buy refreshments.
Police were attempting to stop protesters with a van and barricade out front. Some protestors were overheard discussing a deal with the police where they would let them move forward slowly if they did not cross the barricade.
There had been reports of baton charges against protestors on Thursday. According to some of the nurses, half of the protesters had left in the morning fearing violence.
A leader of the Sindh Nurses Alliance, Eijaz Ali Kaleri, was not to be found at the protest in the afternoon. According to the nurses, he was in a meeting with officials of the Sindh government. Until late evening, no notification had been issued by the government and the nurses vowed to continue the sit-in indefinitely.