Raipur: Contractual employees of the National Health Mission (NHM) in Chhattisgarh went on an indefinite strike on Saturday demanding regularisation of service. The move would hit health services in the state which is struggling with rising number of coronavirus cases.
Around 13,000 NHM contractual health employees also held protests at all district headquarters, except Raipur where they stayed away from work, as part of their indefinite strike, said Hemant Kumar Sinha, president, Chhattisgarh Pradesh NHM Karmchari Sangh. “All these employees, including doctors, clinical staff and management personnel, have been discharging duties with full commitment from last several years, particularly during the present pandemic situation. Some NHM personnel have been infected and some have died as well,” he said.
“The ruling party promised in its election manifesto to regularise services but have failed to do anything so far.We handed over memorandums in support of our demand to the state health minister twice recently but we have not got any response. Disappointed with the government’s attitude, we have decided to go on strike,” Sinha claimed.
A health official, on condition of anonymity, said NHM staff were engaged in sample collection, contact tracing and testing, record-keeping and providing tele-call consultancy during the COVID-19 outbreak, and their absence from duty will greatly affect theses services. State Health Minister TS Singh Deo said alternate arrangements were being made in view of the strike, and warned agitators that new appointments will be made if they do not get back to work.
“It is unfortunate they went on strike during this difficult situation. They should come back. However, I have also got reports that NHM staff have not joined the strike in some districts.,” Singh Deo told PTI. NHM staff are not state government employees and are appointed on yearly basis, with their salaries coming from mission funds.
“They are part of a programme and if tomorrow the mission stops there services will be discontinued. When they get recruited, they know they are being employed for one year.During polls, we had promised them they will not be removed and efforts to regularise them would be taken,” Singh Deo claimed.
“In the selection process to fill regular posts of the health department, we are giving them bonus marks for their experience with NHM. They must resume work immediately or we will get new people on contract to meet the shortfall of health workers during the fight against COVID-19,”he added..
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