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Ambulance service workers continue cease work on Day 2

GVK EMRI terms strike illegal under ESMA; starts hiring

GUWAHATI: Employees of GVK EMRI (Assam) remained on cease work for the second day on Thursday ignoring the 48-hour deadline set by the management even as the Hyderabad-headquartered organisation has termed the strike “illegal” and started hiring staff both for its call centre and field operations.

About 3000 employees initiated the strike from the midnight of Tuesday, crippling the emergency medical transportation service to a great extent over the past two days.

The employees are demanding salary increment, privilege leave encashment and reduction of duty hours from 12 to eight hours.

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“Our demands are valid and despite a written agreement they have failed to live up to it. They have not paid any salary increment for almost two financial years. The working hours too have not been reduced to eight as per law. So, we have decided to continue the cease work in protest against their anti-worker attitude,” Pranjal Sarma, the secretary of the All Assam Mrityunjoy 108 Employees Association, told The Shillong Times on Thursday.

On the management’s move to acquire replacements, Sarma said, “We will definitely not allow them to recruit more people. Such attempts will be thwarted by the association as we have undergone years of training to be eligible for the job. So we will intensify our strike if they do not accept our demands and recruit people.”

The EMRI management however has kept the service on across the state since Wednesday, deploying 235 ambulances under the Adorani scheme. The administration in the districts too has lent support by providing ambulances, drivers and paramedics.

“We have already recruited 30 emergency officers yesterday. Another 60 will be recruited from today. Besides, 80 pilots (drivers) and emergency medical technicians have been absorbed in the services,” Sanjay Jha of GVK EMRI-Assam, said during a media interaction on Thursday.

Jha said that while the privilege leave encashment amount was already released with the July salary the matter of duty hours and performance-based increment is under conciliation with the office of the Labour Commissioner. “So to carry out cease work under such circumstances is illegal. Besides, the union members have kept the ambulance keys, fuel card and mobile phones with them,” he said.

The 108 Mrityunjoy service is a service under the Essential Services Maintenance Act. The call centre here gets about 16,000 calls on an average every day. There are 380 Mrityunjoy (108) ambulances in Assam.

“We will offer the striking employees time to resume work till today. From tomorrow, we start the process of filling up all the vacant posts,” Jha said.





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