Updated: May 12, 2021 1:00:13 am
A DAY after issuing termination letters to 1,400 striking National Health Mission (NHM) employees, the Punjab Health Department on Tuesday issued rejoining letters to all of them, terming it a second chance. According to information available from NHM, most of them had joined back by Tuesday evening.
Nearly 9,000 NHM employees had gone on strike demanding regularisation of jobs on May 4.
The first appeal to join back was issued on May 6 and the second on May 10. But while most had joined back, 1,400 posted in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Hoshairpur, Ferozepur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Pathankot and Tarn Taran, who stayed on strike, were issued a termination letter on directions of Health Minister Balbir Sidhu.
About Tuesday’s rejoining letter, Dr Areet Kaur, Director, NHM, Punjab, said, “Yes, a letter was issued to all civil surgeons giving the employees another chance to join back. As per the reports of civil surgeons, most of them have joined back.”
Meanwhile, employees have been told to give an undertaking that they will not participate in or call for strikes in the future.
It was mentioned in the letter that looking at the Covid pandemic, employees were being given one last chance and in case they did not join by May 11, 5 pm, they will be terminated. A copy of termination orders was also sent along with Tuesday’s letter in case employees decided not to join back.
Even on April 27, NHM employees had gone on a day-long token strike.
Talking with The Indian Express, Avtar Singh, chief organiser of NHM employees’ stir, said, “A few employees, who did not join back on May 10, were given yet another chance on May 11 and almost all have joined back. Now, we will plan our next action later on. Looking at the medical emergency, we came back to work.”
NHM workers are demanding regularisation of their pay scales. Most of the employees are on Covid duties and even in vaccination drives in Punjab.
He added, “Our pay scales start from 10,000 and the maximum range is 50,000 a month. However, majority of the employees even after work experience of 12 years are in the range of 12,000- 25,000 a month. NHM was created in 2008 by the then UPA government under which employees were given jobs with an arrangement that 60 per cent of salary will be paid by Centre and the rest by state. The same arrangement is going on even now. We are given a lump sum and no benefits along with it. Last year, Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu had assured us that the government will regularise us as Haryana has also done the same, but nothing happened after that. All the 9,000 employees are on Covid duties for the past one year and still are being paid very little. ”
Over 800 NHM employees also contracted the virus in the past year. Avtar Singh added, “Three NHM employees also died due to Covid in the past few months.”
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