Hundreds of patients suffered following a flash strike by nearly 2,000 employees, including doctors and para-medical staff, of the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) in this Uttar Pradesh capital demanding pay parity with their counterparts at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
SGPGIMS employees were getting paid at the same scale as the employees of the premier AIIMS in New Delhi since 1995. These privileges were maintained in every pay revision since then. But a recent order by the state government brought down the pay of SGPGIMS staff to that of other medical colleges of the state.
The strike by the staff brought the services in the hospital to a grinding halt.
"We want the government to immediately withdraw this arbitrary order that aims to cut down our salaries and allowances drastically," said Sher Ali, president of the employees union.
"What the government has done amounts to our demotion and we are not going to accept this at any cost," he added.
Senior members of the faculty, who also boycotted work other than emergency services, felt the government's order was bound to result in quite a few quitting and looking for better opportunities in the private sector.
"We are here in the interest of carrying out research and academic pursuits in the same manner as was available at the AIIMS. Once that facility is withdrawn then we may as well march off somewhere else," said a doctor on condition of anonymity.
A rattled government said that the order was issued "erroneously".
"The order appears to have been issued erroneously. There is no intention of the government to withdraw a facility to which the employees have been entitled for so many years," Principal Secretary (Medical Education) Harbhajan Singh told IANS.
"We are in the process of revising the order and restoring the privileges of the employees and doctors soon. But we would like to appeal to the staff to return to duty."