Govt hospitals hit as contract workers go on strike

The strike crippled functioning of state-run health facilities such as district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres across the state. DH Photo.

Services at government hospitals across were affected as contract and outsourced workers at these health facilities are on a strike since Sunday demanding equal pay for equal work.

The strike crippled functioning of state-run health facilities such as district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres across the state.

The workers, under the banner of the Karnataka State Health and Medical Education Department Contractual and Outsourced Employees Association, are demanding the state government pay them a salary on a par with regular staffers, as directed by the Supreme Court in 2017.

"We don't want the officials and ministers to visit us and give us just an assurance. Last year too they told us that they will fulfil our demand, but nothing has happened till date. Until the government gives us a written assurance, we will not budge from this place,” said Sandhya, a technician working in Raichur government hospital who is also the women's representative of the protesters. They are staging the protest at Freedom Park in Bengaluru.

The president of the association Vishwaradhya H Y said that he was removed from his job for no reason. "We do not have job security despite working for many years. The authorities exploit the contract workers and pay them less too,” he added.

Even Ayush doctors serving in various PHCs are facing job insecurity. "When there is a requirement, they hire us, but we are unceremoniously removed once an MBBS graduate is appointed. We are demanding the government to create a separate post for us in the same centre,” said Dr Nadiger, Ayush doctor from Siddapura PHC in Uttara Kannada district.

The doctors also demand the government to follow the directions issued by Ministry of Health on December 21, 2011 which said, "...there must be clear plan to augment human resources in the next 5 years by creation of posts. State should move from contractual appointment to create regular posts...”.

Prakash Gowda, the representative of the contract workers in Koppal, said that patients in the city will not be affected with their strike due to the presence of private hospitals, but rural people will be largely affected.

"In Kustagi taluk, there are hardly any staff at hospitals since most of the contractual workers have come down here" Gowda added. He said that while a contract worker gets a salary of Rs 8,000 per month, the regular government employee discharging the same duties get Rs 16,000 per month.

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