Nursing, paramedic staff of Kasturba hospital join protest to demand pending wages
As health care staff at government and private hospitals in Delhi launched the Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday, the nursing and paramedic staff at Kasturba Hospital — which is run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation — started an indefinite strike against non-payment of salaries pending for the last four months.
The staff at Hindu Rao and Rajan Babu hospitals had gone on strike on January 7 along with employees of other departments of north civic body to demand pending wages. Those from Kasturba hospital joined them on Saturday.
“We stopped work from today and launched an indefinite strike as our salaries are pending for the last four months. We were last paid in September. We have also refused to take part in the Covid vaccination programme,” BL Sharma, president Kasturba Hospital Nurses’ Union, said.
There are nearly 250 nursing and paramedical employees at Kasturba Hospital, while at Hindu Rao Hospital, the number of nursing and paramedical staff is around 350. Nearly 180 paramedic and nursing employees work at Rajan Babu TB Hospital.
Sharma said that none of the hospital, dispensary or maternity and child welfare centre was included in the list of facilities where vaccination for Covid-19 was to start in the first phase on Saturday, as authorities were mindful of the ongoing strike.
“We had clearly said that the nursing and paramedic staff will not support the Covid vaccination programme till pending salaries are paid. Fearing this, the government decided to do away with municipal centres as vaccination points in the first phase,” Sharma said.
Jai Prakash, mayor north corporation, said that the civic body was making all arrangements to clear salaries and end the deadlock.
He, however, hit out at the Delhi government for striking out the names of municipal facilities from the list of Ccovid vaccination centres, where the drive was to be initiated on Saturday and alleged “step-motherly” treatment.
“In times such as these, the municipalities worked with the Delhi government and supported them by diligently carrying out our duties. But due to political malice, the (Arvind) Kejriwal government removed the names of municipal centres from the list where vaccinations was supposed to be started from Saturday. We had successfully conducted dry runs at all our centres and we were all prepared,” he said.
He added that the government had invoked DDMA act when it had engaged municipal employees in other duties and they could have done the same during the time of vaccination. “All our employees would have participated in the vaccination drive if the Delhi government had allowed vaccination at our centres and invoked DDMA act,” Prakash said.
“There are some problems in the MCDs, because the workers are on strike. Keeping in mind that the citizens of Delhi should not face any issue regarding vaccinations, we have taken this decision. The Delhi government is committed to hold successful vaccination drive and it is our responsibility to ensure that the citizens do not face any problem regarding vaccination,” the government said in response to Prakash’s allegations.