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Majority of health workers on strike, Covid-19 vaccination drive for children to go slow in Punjab

The staff on strike include 9,500 employees under National Health Mission (NHM), 2,500 multipurpose health workers (MPHW), 3,000 staff nurses on regular rolls and 1,200 rural pharmacists.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 3, 2022 12:49:17 pm
Pune schools reopening, Covid vaccine for children, Pune covid news, rajesh tope, booster doses in India, Pune news, indian expressSo far, while Covaxin has been tested in children aged 2-18 years, ZyCoV-D has been tested in children aged 12-18 years. (Express file photo)

With more than 16,000 paramedics on strike demanding pay hike and allowances in Punjab, Covid-19 vaccination drive for the 15-18 age group is likely to go slow in the state.

“The Covid-19 vaccination drive is likely to go slow as a majority of the staff is on strike,” said Dr Rajinder Singla, district immunisation officer, Barnala.

The staff on strike include 9,500 employees under National Health Mission (NHM), 2,500 multipurpose health workers (MPHW), 3,000 staff nurses on regular rolls and 1,200 rural pharmacists. The NHM staff include clerical cadres, auxiliary nursing midwives (ANMs), staff nurses, health workers and so on.

“NHM in Punjab was implemented in 2008 under which health employees were recruited with a formula to pay salaries in the ratio of 60 per cent by the Centre and 40 per cent by the state. Over 9,500 employees are working under NHM and even after 10-12 years of job experience, they are getting around only Rs 18,000-20,000 monthly salary,” said Avtar Singh, NHM employees association state committee member.

 

“The salary of ANMs ranges between Rs 8,000 and Rs 50,000 in but a majority of them get up to only around 20,000 per month. We have been demanding pay parity with the regular staff or to put us on regular rolls. As it hasn’t been done till now, we have been on strike since November 16,” added Avtar Singh.

MPHW on regular rolls and contracts are striking because rural area allowance, fixed travelling allowance, border area allowance have been slashed from their salaries by the Punjab Government, said Singh.

Uniform allowance, washing allowance and others have been deducted from staff nurses’ salaries, apart from the above allowances. Nurses also want to be addressed as nursing officers as per the recommendation of the Union Government. Rural pharmacists, meanwhile, are on contract and they want to be included on regular rolls.

“The Haryana government has done pay parity with their NHM employees and are paying them regular scales. Haryana ANM recruited under NHM after 12 years of experience is getting around 50,000 per month compared to Punjab where 20,000 is the limit for NHM and ANM,” added Avtar.

As the majority of the staff is on strike, only a few thousands are working who have been recruited in less than five-year tenures, revealed information. Medical officers, however, are working.

The staff crunch has also affected Covid-19 testing in the state as the daily testing numbers have been around 16,00 despite instructions to do up to 40,000 tests.

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