TB patients left out in cold as contract workers go on strike

Temporary staff in govt hospitals demand regular jobs

An indefinite strike by contractual workers with Delhi’s Directly Observed Treatment Strategy (DOTS) programme has paralysed services at these centres which provide treatment and medicines to tuberculosis patients.

Around 600, who began the strike on August 27, are demanding regularisation of their jobs, and salary and allowances at par with their permanent counterparts on Delhi government rolls.

As a result of the strike, new tuberculosis patients are being deprived of their daily dose of medicines. Patients seeking sputum tests and other TB-related tests and treatment, are being turned away by the striking workers.

However, the permanent employees, who are very few in comparison, have been trying to provide medication to those patients who were receiving treatment before the strike began. Under the banner of TB Control Workers Association, the employees claimed to have gheraoed the Vidhan Sabha and met Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the recent past, but to no avail.

On Tuesday, the leaders met Congress MP and president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee Jai Prakash Agarwal with their demands. “He assured us that he would look into our demands, but we won’t call off the strike unless we get a government order,” said Amit Khari, president of TBCWA.

Rakesh Choudhary, the joint secretary of the association, said these employees have been working on contract basis for the last 15 years.

“We have been fighting with the Delhi government for the last seven years. Finally we were forced to follow this path,” he said.

The employees said after the fifth and sixth pay commissions, the permanent employees receive around Rs 40,000 per month, including allowances.

“When we joined work around 15 years ago, we were being paid at par with the regular Delhi government employees, but after the two pay commissions, we get only Rs 8,500 and no allowances despite doing the same kind and amount of work,” said Khari.

In Delhi, about 25,000 patients receive medication daily under the DOTS programme. Around 800 new patients report at these centres everyday.

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