Health workers protest for better pay, job security
Around 3,000 workers under the National Health Mission (NHM) in Haryana held a protest outside the chief minister’s residence in Karnal to demand job security and better wages. Close to 300 NHM workers from across Gurugram’s district hospitals and health centres also joined in the strike in Karnal, said members of the NHM Karamchari Sangh, a body representing the workers.
Staff appointed under the Mission work on a contractual basis of 11 months, according to the workers, who said that there is no provision for leaves other than 12 casual leaves during the period of employment. They have been demanding regularisation of jobs, appropriate compensation and benefits and salary as per the Seventh Pay Commission.
“These demands have been pending since January 1, 2018. Even after multiple assurances, they’ve not been fulfilled,” said Hari Raj, district head of the workers’ body. Earlier, in February this year, NHM workers in the district had held a month-long protest to raise their demands.
During Monday’s strike, health services in Gurugram were affected as the workers didn’t show up at the urban public health centres(UPHCs), as per officials of the health department, who said that around 18 such health centres were closed across the district. The 18 UPHCs, in areas such as Rajiv Nagar, Laxman Vihar, Om Nagar and Patel Nagar, collectively cater to a population of more than 10 lakh, according to data available with the health department.
Immunisation services and health-care services at the village level were also hit due to the protest, said officials.
“Around 400 workers had earlier applied for a mass leave but they decided to work at the emergency wards and at the neo-natal units, among other sections, to make sure important services weren’t being held up,” Hari Raj said, adding that ambulance drivers employed under the mission were working despite having taken casual leaves.
According to the workers, the protest would most likely continue on Tuesday. Dr SB Kamboj, director-general health services, Haryana, refused to comment on the matter.
Dr Jaswant Singh Punia, civil surgeon, Gurugram confirmed that all emergency and essential services remained unaffected despite to the protest.
“Only basic, community-level services were affected. The Civil Hospital functioned as usual, “ he said.