SRINAGAR: Every year on World Labour Day, the security guards at the associate hospitals of government medical college (GMC) vow to fight for their rights. Next day, they realise it was a futile job as no one is listening to their woes.
A security guard at SMHS hospital, Firdous Ahmad (name changed), a man in his mid-forties, asks his colleague to lend him some amount of money for a month. He is interrupted by other person saying, “He (the person Firdous asked for money) was thinking of borrowing the same from you as he too is out of money these days.”
Firdous, who works for the United Security Placement, a company which outsources manpower to SMHS hospital, has to purchase medicines for his wife who is paralysed since 3 years. The local drug store from which he buys medicines, no longer cooperates as his credit limit has exceeded.
Out of his Rs 4000 monthly salary, Firdous has to spend about Rs 3000 on his wife’s medicines. “Worst part is that we never receive salary on time. Generally, one month’s salary comes after four months. The day I get salary, I have to clear pending bills of the shopkeepers. I keep the remaining money for bus fare. I have no money to buy clothes and books for my daughters,” he said.
All the security guards feel they are being exploited since they joined the company. “When we signed the contract, we were promised a monthly salary of Rs 6000 but were paid just 4000 that too after months. Even we paid Rs 2500 for our uniform and shoes at the time of registration,” they said.
The salary to security guards is paid from the Hospital Development Fund. The medical superintendent deposits the amount to the contractors’ account who eventually pays his employees.
There are more than 100 guards working in the associate hospitals of GMC and all voice the same concern regarding the wages and working schedule. They are allowed to take only two-days off in a month and are not authorised to go for leave even on the death of close ones. For a single day’s leave, a salary of 3 days is deducted.
Bilquees Najar, a 25-year-old girl, who works as a security guard at Bone and Joint hospital, Barzulla lost her parents last year. They were suffering from cancer. After her father’s death, the mother too expired.
To overcome the depression, the company allowed her leave for four days but deducted her salary. “They (company) didn’t even give me time to mourn my parents’ death. After 4 days I reported at office as I feared of losing the job. Still, they deducted my salary,” she said.
Bilquees often sits alone and cries over which the hospital administration told the incharge security to “tell her to attend her duties or resign”. “I have to take care of my brother. That is why I can’t afford losing the job,” she said.
There is no ambulance or van that picks and drops the security guards. “We have to manage on our own. The fear of salary deduction makes us to come even during curfews. Most of the time, we come by foot,” the security guards said.
“We have written applications to Medical Superintendent (GMC) and ex-health minister in this regard but to no avail. The medical superintendent blames the contractor who in turn accuses the superintendent. And in this blame game, it is we who suffer,” they said.
A contractor of the United Security Placement, Abdul Hameed Parray, said he has no idea how much he pays his employees. “They (security guards) are lying. They are getting salaries,” he said.