The protest by Karachi firefighters entered its third on Saturday. They are demanding issuance of 17-month fire risk allowance, 15% raise in salaries, restoration of medical allowance, new uniforms and time scale upgradation.
The firefighters have been staging a sit-in at the Fire Brigade Headquarters near the Civil Hospital since Thursday.
Late last night, a spokesman for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation said in a statement that the protest had been called off on the assurance of the mayor. All fire fighters would be present on their duties, the statement said.
It said the fire fighters ended their protest on the assurance that the KMC would release one-month fire risk allowance within a week.
The spokesman said the KMC would try to clear the pending fire risk allowance on a monthly basis. All outstanding arrears of the fire brigade staffers would be cleared after approval of grant-in-aid by the Sindh government, the statement added.
It said that every employee had the basic right to protest, however, firefighters were deputed on humanitarian services and it was their prime responsibility to save lives and properties of the masses.
Shahid Qadri, a central leader of the Fire Fighters Welfare Organisation, termed the KMC statement “false and fabricated”. He said the protest is still continued.
“Our demands are not being met and we are still on protest until their approval,” Qadri said.
He said none of the KMC officials, including the mayor and the metropolitan commissioner, visited the protesting firefighters to resolve the issue.
“The mayor has not yet given us any assurance regarding the approval of our demands,” the firefighters’ representative said.
“Our firefighters took part in two recent incidents on Shahrae Faisal and in Liaquatabad’s Timber Market as a number of women and children were stranded there.”
He alleged that Chief Fire Officer Tehseen Siddiqui threatened firefighters to end their protest or they would be arrested for violating their code of conduct.
Qadri said they would devise a future strategy, if the KMC authorities did not contact them with regard to their demands.
Siddiqui told Samaa Digital that the issue was being politicised. Without naming any political party, the chief fire officer said the protesting individuals were not firefighters, but political workers.
He said a committee comprising members of the Fire Fighters Welfare Organisation had been formed, which was in contact with the mayor and the metropolitan commissioner.
Siddiqui said the chief minister had taken notice of the firefighters’ protest over non-issuance of fire risk allowance. He said the first installment of the pending fire risk allowance would be issued by October 25.
The chief fire officer admitted that a symbolic protest by the firefighters is still continued, however, it will be ended soon after the metropolitan commissioner meets a delegation of the FFWO to listen to firefighters’ demands.