Strike by pharmacists, class-4 staff cripples health services at rural dispensaries
The health services at 1,186 health centres and 582 veterinary dispensaries falling under zila parishads throughout the state have been completely paralysed with pharmacists and class-4 employees boycotting the work since June 1, demanding regularisation of their jobs after seven years in service.punjab Updated: Jun 08, 2013 23:05 IST
The health services at 1,186 health centres and 582 veterinary dispensaries falling under zila parishads throughout the state have been completely paralysed with pharmacists and class-4 employees boycotting the work since June 1, demanding regularisation of their jobs after seven years in service.
The pharmacists and class-4 employees have been working in these dispensaries since 2007 on contractual basis, but the government, till date, has not formulated a concrete policy for their regularisation despite repeated assurances.
In June 2006, pharmacists were directly appointed by rural medical officers (RMOs, who are doctors in the rural dispensaries) through walk-in interviews and they were paid salaries as per RMOs' discretion.
The monthly salary of them was fixed at R5,000. Later, they were brought under the zila parishad and were paid R7,000 per month.
However, the Punjab government regularised all RMOs in 2011 and promised that pharmacists and class-4 employees would also be regularised soon. Since then, the government has been extending their contract every six months.
These pharmacists are handling 90% work at these dispensaries. According to their contract, maintenance of records and medicines are the duties of pharmacists, but they are working on a meagre salary of R7,000.
They are now demanding pay-scale on par with their counterparts working in the health department, which is 10,300-34,800-4200. This would bring the salary of these pharmacists to R30,290. Similarly, the class-4 employees working in these dispensaries are being paid R3,000 instead of R15,000, which they are demanding.
Sources said the government has proposed to regularise the services of these pharmacists through an open merit competition in which they will have to complete with freshers as well.
"We did our pharmacy course nearly 10 years back when there were hardly three-four colleges, which offered these courses and the merit was also not that high. But, with private institutions coming up, students these days have started scoring higher marks as these colleges just want to make money and give higher percentage so as to attract more and more students. We won't be able to compete in his criteria at all," stated Ram Singh, president of the union.
"We have completed seven years in service already and certainly have more experience. Ignoring us at this stage is unethical," the pharmacists said.
In rural dispensaries, the work is suffering badly because of the strike and only OPDs are being run with patients buying medicines from outside.
The action committee said they would not come to work until the government comes out with a concrete policy to regularise them and at least increase their monthly salary.