NHM workers in Gurugram may stage protest over contract issue

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Published on Sep 29, 2020 12:04 AM IST
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ByPrayag Arora-Desai

Gurugram: Nearly 750 contractual healthcare workers with the National Health Mission (NHM) in Gurugram district — comprising doctors, auxiliary midwife nurses, emergency medical technicians, and ambulance drivers, among others — have declined to get their employment contracts renewed and are planning to protest against the two new clauses in the contract.

Members of NHM Karmachari Sangh alleged that the two specific clauses, which have been added to the contract this year, would reduce job security for the health workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. They said that they would have to either strike work or stage a sit-in in the coming days if the clauses are not withdrawn.

The contractual workers on Monday wrote to the district chief medical officer, informing him about their decision that no NHM worker in the district “will submit his contract affidavit for renewal”.

Hari Raj, general secretary, NHM Karmachari Sangh (Haryana) and district president (Gurugram), said that contractual NHM workers make up a third of the health department’s staff in Gurugram district.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have been working day and night on the frontline. Medical technicians, ambulance drivers and midwives, all are included in this group. The state’s insistence on these clauses sends the wrong message. The new terms allow appointing health authorities, such as civil surgeons, to terminate any employee with no advance notice and no compensation. This was not the case earlier.”

The Monday’s letter, authored by the district president of the NHM Karmachari Sangh, comes on the heels of a union meeting held in Gurugram on September 25. The letter states, “You are hereby notified that during our meeting on September 25, it has been decided that no NHM worker in the district will submit his contract affidavit for renewal.”

The specific clauses (numbered 9 and 10) in the ‘Letter of Contract’ affidavit, which NHM workers are expected to sign and submit by the end of the month in order to renew their employment, remove the provision of a month-long notice period in case of termination of employment. The affidavit (a copy of which is with Hindustan Times) also states that this may be done “without making payment of remuneration in advance”.

Rehan Raza, state president of the NHM workers union, said, “This is not just a Gurugram matter. All 13,500 NHM workers in Haryana will be affected by this decision. We have already written to the state government on September 20 explaining our demands. The Karmachari Sangh state committee will be meeting later this week. If the clauses are not rescinded, we will have no option but to protest, either through a strike or sit-in.”

Dr Virender Yadav, chief medical officer, Gurugram, declined to provide a comment, saying this was a state matter and did not concern his office.

Rajeev Arora, additional chief secretary (health), Haryana, also declined to provide a comment for this story. Prabjot Singh, mission director, NHM Haryana, also did not respond to requests for comment.

However, an official in the post of deputy director, NHM Haryana, seeking anonymity, said, “These clauses have been included to ensure better performance on the job by the contractual workers. A large proportion of contract NHM workers in Haryana have been objecting to these clauses. We have decided on a course of action if they do not comply, but I am not at liberty to disclose it yet.”

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