Seven out of 585 ambulances of 108 emergency services remained off the roads on Saturday as the strike by its contractual employees entered its third day. Though the protesters claimed they were 600 in number, the management of GVK EMRI, which deploys 108 ambulance staff in the state, said they were only 50.
“Out of 585 ambulances, only seven didn’t run, that too for a brief period across the state, mostly in Mehsana and a few in Navsari and Surat. We made sure that the moment the pilot (driver) leaves, we have a replacement.
Employees, who are working, have volunteered to take up more work. All weekly offs have been cancelled so that there is no crisis, “said Jaswant Prajapati, Chief Operating Officer, Gujarat operations, of GVK EMRI. According to the management of GVK-EMRI, around 50 contractual employees are on strike outside the 108 ambulance services’ office in Mehsana.
“Most of them are old employees who were terminated last year. There are only 10 new employees and we will try our best not to lose them. In the previous two strikes we agreed to many of their 48 demands. We increased their daily allowance, gave them weekly offs and transferred managers against whom there were complaints,” said Prajapati.
The previous two strikes took place on April 13 and May 25 in Surat. On the other hand, Ahmedabad-based Contract and Fixed Pagar Sangarsh Samiti, which joined the protesters in Mehsana on Saturday, claimed there were around 600 people on hunger strike. “Among them, a women fainted and needed immediate medical attention. But, the management refused to consider the demands. These are people who work for over 12 hours. It is exploiting them. We have been fighting for the cause of contractual workers. So we joined them,” said Rajnikant Solanki, president of the samiti. The strike has affected ambulance services in Surat, Valsad, Navsari and Mehsana. Launched on August 29, 2007, GVK EMRI deals with over 3,000 emergencies in Gujarat in a day.