Government employees have blocked several key highways throughout Balochistan in protest, saying that the strikes will not be called off until the government concedes to their demands.
Thousands of government employees from various sectors have flooded the streets in Quetta and other major cities of Balochistan for the past eight days, demanding a 25% pay raise as the federal government had recently announced for its employees. The Balochistan government has not increased the salaries of the employees despite the crushing price hikes and rampant inflation in Balochistan.
The leaders of the government employees negotiated with government representatives on Saturday, but no headway was achieved. Eight rounds of lengthy talks remained fruitless as the government employees refused to end the protest until the promised 25% pay raise has been made.
Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan has said that the government of Balochistan will have to bear a 10-15 billion rupee burden if the demands of the government employees are met. The CM has said that he is unwilling to make promises knowing that his government cannot implement them.
The leaders of the employees’ grand alliance gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the Balochistan government, threatening to block key highways throughout the region if their demands are not met.
“We will block all national highways linking Balochistan with the rest of the country if the provincial government fails to issue a notification about a 25 per cent increase in our salaries and meet our other demands”, one protest leader told the media.
The chief minister, however, expressed concern that the employees do not perform their duties properly. He said that if the employees “do their job properly, we are ready to increase their salaries not only once but twice.
“We all know that a large number of employees do not do their job properly. If I make decisions for political scoring, I can get praise by giving a 50pc allowance instead of 25pc. But is this a permanent solution to the problem”, he said. He asked the protestors to seriously consider the problem and take things in the right direction.
On the other hand, the protestors are adamant that they will not end their strikes until the government has conceded to their demands. The protestors argue that the chief minister is digressing from the central point – granting the promised 25% pay raise – and is instead offering employment as a solution.
The Grand Employees Alliance has announced wheel-jam strikes throughout Balochistan to jack up the pressure on the government. The protestors have partially blocked the western bypass in Quetta. Furthermore, the protestors have blocked highways in Lasbela, Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar, Kalat, Kohlu and several other cities of Balochistan.
The protests are also affecting the normal life of the civilians. The road blockings have hindered transportation and caused traffic in various cities. Government teachers have also joined the protests which are only adding to the woes of the civilians.