The premier Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) hospital here was Sunday hit by an indefinite strike by the operation theatre technicians demanding a pay hike.
The indefinite strike, that has hit surgeries at the hospital, was called after talks with the authorities collapsed.
Earlier, the operation theatre technicians had gone on three days mass casual leave from Thursday to Saturday. Seven had also shaved their heads in public Friday to lodge a protest but PGIMER authorities did not budge from their stand, forcing the employees to go on an indefinite strike.
"PGIMER officials are not ready to listen to us. Earlier they had given us assurances to buy time but nothing concrete came out," Naresh Gautam, secretary of the Operation Theatre Technical Staff Association, told IANS Sunday.
"We went on mass casual leave, shaved our heads, sat on hunger strike; but PGIMER did not pay any heed. Now we have decided to go on an indefinite strike. We want a written assurance about a salary hike from the authorities," he said.
Every day around 300 surgeries are conducted at the PGIMER but during the last three days only around 200 surgeries were performed with the help of nurses. The disruption has inconvenienced patients and their attendants.
However, the agitating staff has deployed 10 of their colleagues for emergencies.
The operation theatre technicians are demanding salaries equivalent to their counterparts at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. They are also demanding time-bound promotions irrespective of available vacancies and change in recruitment rules.
PGIMER, a leading medical institute that is visited by thousands of patients everyday, has termed the strike as illegal.
"The health ministry has already accepted their demands and this matter is pending with the finance ministry. Such approvals always take time but technicians are unnecessarily harassing the management and patients. We are taking the help of nurses to make sure that surgeries are not hampered at the institute," said a PGIMER official.
Strikes by different staff associations have continued to haunt the PGIMER. A few months back, the sweepers' association had gone on strike, demanding release of their salaries, and PGIMER management had to hire outside services to clean the garbage.