Following a mid-way settlement between the 12,000 agitating medical officers associated with the MAGMO (Maharashtra State Gazetted Medical Officers) and the state government, the week-long strike of doctors working in the state’s district, sub-district, rural hospitals, and public health centers finally came to an end Monday afternoon.
The decision to call off the protest came after an hour long meeting of MAGMO and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Monday morning during which the CM assured to clear all the files related to MAGMO’s demands in the next two cabinet meetings.
Chavan said, “These demands have been under discussion for three years now. There were few issues due to which we could not approve all the demands. Now, I have already asked the health department to permanently absorb doctors on contract basis based on the vacant posts we have.”
Sujata Saunik, state public health secretary, said, “They (the doctors) realised that all their demands were not possible to implement and even they wanted to call off the strike. We have still not agreed to one of their demands of getting sixth pay implemented from 2006.”
The demands of medical officers included increase in retirement age from 58 to 62 years, regularization of promotion procedure, creation of optional non-practicing allowance for PG pursuing medical officer, fixed working hours, and implementation of sixth pay for doctors working in the health department from 2006.
Barring implementation of sixth pay, state government will now formulate the remaining demands and present them to the cabinet for approval, Saunik said.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Dr Rajesh Gaikwad, president of MAGMO – who broke his week-long hunger strike after accepting a glass of juice from the CM – confided that they had to give up their one demand in lieu of getting several other ones approved.
“The CM called us for dialogue and I saw the current status of all our demands. The file work was almost complete and for the first time I felt that they will get implemented for real. That is why we decided to call off the strike,” he said.
Dr Sanjay Pawar, joint secretary of MAGMO, said that doctors will resume work on Monday itself. “We are satisfied that the government decided to deliberate on our issues. The demands should be approved in the next week’s cabinet meeting.”
The state government has given a green signal for absorbing 789 medical officers with BAMS degree and 32 medical officers with BDS degree who work as medical officers on ad hoc basis.
Apart from that, government is ready to work on a way to reduce the working hours of doctors to eight hours. Currently, Pawar said that they are expected to report for 24 hours. “The demand to increase retirement age is also under discussions,” Pawar said.