Striking staff of ambulance service to resume work

Their employer, GVK EMRI, promises to address their grievances in 15 days

Striking staff of ambulance service to resume work

The GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute on Thursday set a 24-hour deadline for drivers and paramedics of the ‘108’ ambulance service who are on strike to resume work or lose their jobs.

On January 25, the company, which runs the Arogya Kavacha ambulance service, had asked its staff to sign a nine-point undertaking in a week to retain their jobs. The decision was taken a day after drivers and paramedics started protesting at the Freedom Park for better pay and regularisation of their service.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Abhinav K Jayaram, state head, GVK EMRI, said that 600 employees had signed the undertaking so far. “As many as 200 signed the undertaking as soon as we asked them to. In the last few days, 400 others have come forward to sign it. We have terminated the service of 152 staff members after they went on strike,” he said and accused them of instigating other employees.

The protesting staff had opposed three points in the undertaking, wherein they can’t strike work, approach the media or the government about their grievances.

The GVK EMRI later altered these points and managed to get 600 staff members sign the undertaking. “We have removed the statement which reads that they will not be allowed to strike work. Instead, we have now just said that the service is under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and all rules under the Act are applicable to it. We also told them they can approach the government with their problems if the company fails to address their grievances within 15 days. Only if the government is unable to address them satisfactorily they can approach the media as per the altered undertaking,” Jayaram said.

Shrishail Hallur, state president, 108 Ambulance Drivers’ Association, said the protest would go on in districts. “We have had a series of meetings with the Health and Family Welfare Minister U T Khader and Principal Secretary M Lakshminarayana. They have responded to us positively. The minister also promised to sanction additional funds in the next budget,” he added.

As they have not been given permission to protest in Bengaluru, the staff from the City will protest in Mandya. Hallur said that with assurance from the government, they would resume work.

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