With Gujarat assembly elections just weeks away, workers of the Health Department’s Tuberculosis Control Program have become the latest to strike against the state government over various demands, including permanent employment and wage hikes.
On Monday, around 1,100 workers of the TB control program went on mass casual leave (CL) and declared an indefinite strike, urging the government to accept their 14-point demands. Employees reached their respective offices under district health departments as well as municipal bodies and submitted their CL.
All personnel, including program supervisors, senior treatment supervisors, senior TB lab supervisors, lab technicians, data entry operators, TB health visitors, accountants, drug resistance supervisors (DPS), coordinators, medical officers, as well as other contract workers, are required to meet the demands Refrain from providing service. With this step, TB control activities in 33 districts will come to a complete halt.
In Vadodara, about 100 employees met the Resident Additional Collector and submitted a memorandum regarding their demands and left the offices vacant. The personnel were affiliated to the Bhavnagar-based Gujarat Revised National TB Control Program (GRNTCP) contract workers union.
GRNTCP President Himanshu Pandya told Indian Express That the association had met the state’s National Health Mission director on April 11, where he was assured that the resolution would come “within three weeks”. “We had also met the health minister at that time and he had assured us of looking into the demands and resolving our grievances immediately, but five months have passed… we have been forced to go on strike, which we many Been putting off for days. In the larger interest of public health,” Pandya said.
He said three of the 14 demands are “very important”. “The first one pertains to our employment status. As per GAD circular, we were hired in 1997, but we remain on contract… That means, despite giving almost 30 years of our life in service, we have not received any retirement benefits nor We deserve that kind of equal pay. of permanent employees. We have demanded that we be given permanent employment and a compensation package for retirement.
Pandya, who is a senior treatment supervisor in Bhavnagar district, said that with the assembly elections fast approaching, the onus is on the government to expedite the resolution. “Even though the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in force for elections, the government may approach the Election Commission and seek special permission to end the standoff with critical health program workers if it fails to do so in time. Is. But we have decided that the strike will not end.
Health Minister Rushikesh Patel could not be reached for comment.
Employees of 45 health centers face The Municipal Corporation also submitted a memorandum to Dr. Ashish Naik, Deputy Health Commissioner of the civic body. Kunal Vyas, leader of contractual workers of the TB program, said that they would be on an indefinite strike from Tuesday.
According to health department data, as of September 19 in Gujarat, 110,305 TB patients are being treated in 33 districts. Since January, 73,003 patients have been diagnosed with TB in government hospitals, while 37,302 were diagnosed through private hospitals.
The employees of the state transport department also went on strike on Monday demanding attention to their various demands, including dearness allowance and bonus, pending for the last three years. Bipin Langaria, vice-president of Gujarat Transport Workers Federation, said, “If our demands are not met, all 45,000 employees of the state transport department will go on an indefinite strike from the midnight of September 22.”
Class III officers of the Revenue Department in Vadodara and Valsad districts also went on mass casual leave on Monday with more than 18 demands. In Narmada district, teachers of Ashram Shala also formed black protest bands and went on strike demanding grade pay and other benefits.