Staff strike at Islamia College University continues

PESHAWAR: The strike in the historic Islamia College University entered the second week as both sides stuck to their positions, resulting in a waste of the time of the students and delay in the examinations.

The complete strike was started on February 15 on the call of the Joint Action Committee of the institution. A day before the strike, the final term examinations of the university students started and one paper was arranged in some of the departments.

But the exams were discontinued the next day due to the strike and all the academic and administrative activities came to a complete standstill as the entire teaching and non-teaching staff refused to work. The university administration had already formed a reconciliation committee and notified a 10 percent increase in the salaries of the employees but the efforts failed to bear any fruits so far.

“The strike is still going on and no progress has been made towards the solution of our demands. We will continue our strike till acceptance of all our demands,” said Dr. Izhar Ahmad, president, of the Teaching Staff Association of the university.

Vice-chancellor Prof Dr. Gul Majeed Khan told The News that he had made every effort to save the students’ time. But the employees were not ready to give a positive response. The employees want an increase in salaries in accordance with all the earlier announcements made by the government from time to time.

But the university was not in a position to pay the normal salaries owing to the financial crisis, which the university has been confronting for the last three to four years. “We notified a 10 percent raise in the salaries, but they did not accept it,” he said. Now, the university has convened a meeting of the Finance and Planning Committee for February 22 and Syndicate for the 27th of this month to find out a reasonable solution to the situation.

“I will put the entire situation before these forums and make some decisions. I can’t take any decision individually,” he said. He said that all his requests and efforts are falling on deaf ears. None of the universities, financially more stable than the Islamia College has given the raise in salaries thus far and the employees are forcing the university administration to do so, he said. “Let’s see what happens,” he remarked.

The university employees, on the other hand, termed the university administration particularly the vice-chancellor as stubborn and indifferent towards their “genuine” demands. “The syndicate in its 19th meeting had authorized the vice-chancellor to increase the salaries of the employees from the time of announcement by the government. Therefore, there is no need for more Finance and Planning Committee and syndicate meetings. And, why were they not holding these meetings for the last one year as the salaries were increased by the government in February and June last year,” Dr. Izhar argued?

The employees have arranged a protest camp in the main lawn outside the vice-chancellor’s office. The employees said the government had announced an increase in salaries on three different occasions in the name of disparity allowance worth 20 percent, accommodation allowance seven percent, and increase in salaries 10 percent. They said all the raises should be given to them in salaries from March 1.

Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its student’s wing Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) also expressed solidarity with the protesting employees. The IJT announced to stage a ‘donation camp’ in the university against the stoppage of grants to the university, denying teachers and other employees raise in salaries, hike in fees, and hostel problems.

Provincial President of JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said it was a matter of shame for the rulers that the students were out to hold a donation camp for running university affairs. He said the government had miserably failed to run the affairs of the university in effective manners. The JI leader said the government should take notice of the situation and release grants to the universities so that the miseries of the employees could be overcome and the precious time of the students saved.