Outsourced employees of Gandhi General Hospital including sanitation workers, security guards, and those in patient care, have boycotted their duties to stage a day-long protest at the hospital Tuesday. Gandhi hospital is Telangana’s nodal center for treatment of COVID-19 cases.
Under the banner of Telangana United Medical and Health Employees Union, the workers affiliated to different unions, like CITU, AITUC, INTUC, and BMS etc, have called for a day-long protest to gain attention of the state government in addressing their long pending demands. Around 700 workers are part of the strike.
Meanwhile, about 220 outsourced nurses of the hospital who have been on strike since Friday seeking regularisation of their jobs have intensified their protest.
The demands of the protesting class IV contractual employees also are similar to that of the outsourced nurses. They want their employment to be regularised, their salaries to be hiked to Rs 25,000 per month as against the present Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per month. They have also demanded other benefits like ESI, PF, etc.
After passing a resolution about the one-day strike at the general body meeting on Monday, the workers gave a representation to the hospital superintendent Dr Raja Rao, DME Dr K Ramesh Reddy and health minister Eatala Rajender personally.
Failing to address their demands, the workers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike in the near future. Their repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears, said Shiva Kumar, president, INTUC Gandhi unit.
“The hospital is run by class IV employees. We are the ones who take care of patients and keep the hospital clean and hygienic and we are paid peanuts. The salaries are not paid regularly and we are made to suffer. In spite of our sacrifices during the pandemic, the government refused to pay attention to our problems,” said Shiva Kumar.
One of the contract staffers, an oxygen operator who requested anonymity, said that they have been repeatedly approaching the hospital authorities regarding their own safety at work.
“Drivers, lab technicians, oxygen operators, electricians, watermen, lift operator, barber, and x-ray technicians, etc are hired under same GO and given same salary since 2007. We get a take-home salary of Rs 10,350. We are working in high risk conditions without sufficient safety measures,” he explained.
“Thirty persons among class IV employees were tested positive for COVID19 and are forced to come to duty. We dont get quanrantine leaves. There is no regard for our lives and safety,” a worker attached to mortuary duty at Gandhi hospital.
“Where are all the people who wanted to shower petals on Covid19 frontline workers? We are asking for some dignity. Show us some love and respect. Instead, people are now scared to come near us for the services we do,” said a sanitation worker at Gandhi hospital, wishing not to be named.
The protesting workers will decide future course of action after convening a meeting today evening, said Pangarekka Laxmipati, CITU Gandhi unit president.
The doctors at Gandhi hospital affiliated to the Telangana Government Doctors’ Association(TGDA) have also threatened to go on strike in the coming days if their demand for implementation of University Grants Commission(UGC) revised pay scales of 2016, that is pending for four years now, is not considered immediately. They want the implementation of revised pay with arrears from January 2016 to be added to GPF in installments or as a one time settlement.
About a month ago, the junior doctors at the Gandhi hospital squatted on the main road demanding decentralisation of Covid-19 treatment, immediate recruitment of additional staff, and enhanced security for all frontline workers.
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