Chandigarh health department puts on hold plan to reinstate 178 NHM employees
The UT health department has put on hold the decision of reinstating the 178 terminated National Health Mission (NHM) workers after the employees moved high court, director health services said on Friday.
All the 178 terminated healthcare workers had submitted written apologies and assurance to rejoin duties on their previous salaries on November 22, after which the department had said that the screening committee will scrutinise their applications, check employees’ demands and explanations, and then will allow them to come back to work.
The NHM employees have filed a case — ‘Niranjan Kumar and others versus Union of India and others’ — in the Punjab and Haryana high court, hearing of which is due on January 12, 2022.
Director health services Dr Suman Singh said, “The health department was ready to take back the termination of the employees, but the staff preferred to move high court. Now, the department can’t do anything and we will obey the orders which will be given by the court in January. Till then, the staff will not be allowed to rejoin their duties.”
At least 500 NHM employees, working under the UT health department as doctors, paramedical staff and managerial staff, including nursing officers, pharmacy officers, auxiliary nurse midwives, lab technicians, dental technicians and other Group-4 workers, have been working for salaries lower than the approved minimum wages since 2013.
In August, over 300 NHM workers had gone on an indefinite leave to press their demand for equal wages for equal work. Following the continuous protest, the UT administration had given a written assurance of a salary hike.
The department had then offered revised working conditions for them against the salary hike. However, the services of the NHM workers were terminated on October 28, after they went on a strike without giving prior intimation to press for salaries at DC rates.
Meanwhile, Amit Kumar, general secretary of the NHM union, said, “The health department asked us to withdraw the court case before rejoining the duties. We asked the department to give us a written assurance that they will cancel our termination after dropping the court case, but the authorities refused to do so. We are ready to withdraw the case after rejoining the duties or if department will give us written assurance on rolling back the termination once the case is dropped.”