Srinagar: A day after Senior Resident Doctors at the premier Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura threatened to launch a long term strike to press for their demands, the hospital administration has invoked the ‘Essential Services Management Act’ against the doctors besides, threatening severe action against the protesting medicos.
The circular issued by Direction SKIMS, Dr A G Ahanger has come after the senior residents of the hospital observed a token strike on Wednesday to press for their demands which include bringing them at par with the pay scale approved by the centre for ‘equal work, equal pay’.
“The Administration has taken a serious note of the one day token strike call observed by the Resident Doctors of the SKIMS on 15.11.2017, as it has adversely affected the patient care of the Institute and has created tremendous difficulties for the patients and attendants who had come to attend OPD and the Emergency and other essential treatment areas especially those patients complaining about the H1N1 Influenza like complaints who otherwise need round the clock emergency cover to avoid any eventuality or fatality,” a circular issued by the hospital administration read.
The circular while threatening severe action against the doctors reads “it is, therefore, made clear to all the concerned Resident doctors who have resorted to strike on 15-11-2017 that as a result of this strike, if any death or any eventuality in the Institute occurs or is reported subsequently,” adding that the responsibility shall he squarely on them and “they will be held accountable for the same individually and action will be taken against them as the case may be in accordance with the Government Employees (Conduct) Rules 1971 and Essential Services Maintenance Act,” the circular, a copy of which is lying with ‘Kashmir Vision’ reads.
While nullifying the strike of the senior residents, the circular said that they (doctors) while applying for Sr residency at SKIMS have accepted the terms and conditions laid down in the Advertisement particularly with reference to the pay structure.
“Sr. Residents while applying for the positions of Sr. Residency at the SKIMS have opted and accepted the terms and conditions laid down in the Advertisement particularly with reference to the pay structure,” the circular says.
“It is obligatory upon the Resident Doctors to abide by the terms and conditions laid down in the rules and regulations prescribed for all post-graduate/postdoctoral Resident doctors at the SKIMS and the norms prescribed from time to time by the Institute for the cause of patient care,” it says.
Pertinently, the hospital administration has also decided not to pay salary to the doctors for the day they observed strike, the circular reads.
“As per the Principle of ‘No Work No Pay’ the striking doctors shall not be paid any pay for the period of strike,” implying, future strikes will also come with a cost to pay,” the order issued said.
Notably, this is for the first time that ESMA has been invoked against the Doctors in SKIMS.
“So far the act has not been invoked by the head of any institution, thus making it for the first time to be invoked by the Director of any institution,” said a doctor requesting anonymity.
In April 2010, cabinet in a decision invoked ESMA when government employees were continuing with the strike. Government employees were demanding the release of sixth pay commission arrears and enhancement of retirement age from 58 to 60. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
In February 2011, the Government once again invoked sections of ESMA against Public Health Engineering department employees who were threatening to begin with an indefinite strike to press for their demands. The government had also decided to declare the strike as illegal.
In September 2017, when the resident doctors of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar continued with the strike against pay disparity, the government warned the protesting doctors that it will be forced to invoke sections of EMSA if the doctors did not end the strike, to “prevent patients from suffering.”