Around 150 employees of the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Amethi are protesting against alleged discrepancies in salary structure. The district administration has ordered the labour department to inquire into the issue.
The hospital is run by the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Trust, which was founded by former prime minister Indira Gandhi. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is chairperson of the trust and her son and local MP Rahul Gandhi is on the board of trustees. This is the first time that the employees have publicly voiced their protest and sought the district administration’s help.
“We have been raising the issue of discrepancies in our salaries before hospital administration for long and have communicated it to our local MP as well, but nothing happened. While some of the technical staff have been getting Rs 6,000 for past 20 years, others doing the same job in the hospital get close to Rs 24,000,” alleged Chandra Bhan Pandey, General Secretary of the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital Employees Union, who sat on dharna outside the hospital premises along with other employees Wednesday.
Asked why they approached the district administration, Pandey said, “In February this year, we had given our demands to the hospital administrator, which was followed by several reminders. Then, we threatened to go on strike but no one bothered. Thus, we decided to protest till our demands are met. We were called by district administration for a meeting. We met the district magistrate with our demands today.”
However, District Magistrate Yogesh Kumar denied having intervened on his own. He claimed that the sub-divisional magistrate had met the employees requesting them not to allow their protest to become violent. It was then that the protesters expressed their desire to make their presentation before the administration, he said.
“They met me today and alleged discrepancies in disbursement of salaries. They alleged that favoritism plays a great role in defining the salary structure and not qualification. They requested us to look into the records. Since it is a labour department related issue, thus I have asked them to conduct an inquiry and then we will accordingly act as per their report,” DM Yogesh Kumar told The Indian Express.
He further informed, “There has also been allegations that despite being run by a trust, private beds are charged upto Rs 3000. Since the matter has come to us, we would look into all these issues.”
Administrator of the trust, Wing Commander (retired) Manoj Muttu, on the other hand, claimed that dialogue with the employees was already going on and that the administration was looking into their issues.
“They had given a list of several demands. We had held discussions and I had given assurance to find a mutually agreeable solution. We do not want anyone to suffer and are evolving a plan as to how to address the problem,” said Muttu. “But they decided to sit on dharna and no one even spoke to me. This kind of a behaviour is uncalled for. We would find a solution, but not with someone pointing a gun to my head.”
He added that the hospital was not defying labour laws and no employee is paid below the minimum wage. “We are a charitable hospital catering to entire Amethi district, which does not even have a proper district hospital. Our expenses are more than the income, but still no one can say that labour laws are not being adhered to.”
The 35-year-old Sanjay Gandhi Hospital had run into controversy in May after the allegations sufaced that its guest house, which was provided land on lease by the state government, was being used allegedly for political meetings . The Congress maintained that the it was only used by trustees of the trust and not for any political meetings.