Emergency Ambulance service staff continue strike

Hundreds stage dharna near NHM office in Guwahati

 

GUWAHATI: Employees of GVK EMRI (Assam) continued their cease work for the sixth day, staging a sit-in demonstration near the National Health Mission (NHM) office on GS Road here on Monday.

About 3000 employees of the Hyderabad headquartered organisation had taken resort to the strike from the midnight of Tuesday, crippling the emergency medical transportation service across the state even as the company termed the protest “illegal” and subsequently started hiring staff for its call centre and field operations.

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

Hundreds of agitating workers of the 108 and 102 ambulance services shouted slogans and raised placards against the company at the sit-in from Monday morning, pledging not to return to work unless the management held talks with the association and gave a written assurance to fulfill the demands.

“The agitation is being held under the aegis of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) as the employees association is affiliated to it. The government has been silent in the demands of the workers till date. So this protest will continue till a solution is arrived at,” an AITUC member told the media at the dharna site here.

The protesters also alleged that when the service was introduced in 2008, as per agreement with the state government, the company was supposed to engage six employees per ambulance during three shifts of eight hours per day.

“Instead we have four employees comprising two pilots and two emergency medical technicians per ambulance on a 12-hour shift per day now, ” an employee said.

The call centre of the company normally receives between 16000 and 18000 calls per day.  However,  according to reports, the percentage of calls attended and service catered to since Wednesday have gone down drastically even as the management has roped in support staff and ambulances under the Adarani scheme. The districts too have lent support by providing ambulances and drivers.

GVK EMRI’s ten-year pact with the Assam government for providing the emergency response service was supposed to have ended in May this year but was extended for four months thereafter.

The state government pays the company around Rs 54crore for running the service.