CATS staff end strike after meeting Health Secretary

The contractual employees of the Centralised Ambulance Trauma Services (CATS) withdrew the strike on Tuesday afternoon. However, ambulance services were hit as only a few vehicles were plying in the morning.

The strike was withdrawn “unconditionally” after the employees met Health Secretary S C L Das. 

On Monday, 610 contractual employees went on a strike against the privatisation of ambulances by the Delhi government.

“We withdrew the strike after meeting the Health Secretary. Patients have suffered in emergency cases since yesterday and adequate number of CATS ambulances will be needed in view of the Republic Day celebrations. So we joined the services from the afternoon,” said Narendra Lakra, president, CATS Contractual Employees Association.

The fleet of 152 CATS ambulances were pressed into service after 3 pm. Services were severely affected even though most of the calls were transferred to the PCR vans.

The employees had demanded that their contracts be renewed and their salaries be hiked.

Even though the government had already issued the expression of interest (EOI) for the private firms to take over the maintenance of the ambulances, the employees had demanded on Monday that the move be rolled back.

“The workers joined back services unconditionally on Tuesday. Normal services resumed in the afternoon,” said Dr Vasantha Kumar N, Director, CATS.

“There is, however, no worry for them as it was mentioned in the EOI that the employees will continue their services and only maintenance of the services will be outsourced,” he added.

The employees had not renewed their contracts after the terms expired on December 31, according to the authorities.

‘Three deaths reported’

Three people reportedly succumbed to their injuries after ambulances did not reach in time on Tuesday, said a source in CATS. However, the CATS administration said the deaths cannot be directly linked to the strike.

“All calls were transferred to PCR vans. In cases of accidents, PCR vans reached the spot,” said Dr Kumar.

On Monday, Dr Kumar had said the services of contractual employees will be terminated if they do not join on Tuesday. 

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