Govt indifference to NHM employees leaves health services in lurch

Govt indifference to NHM employees leaves health services in lurch
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Employees strike enters 9th day


Srinagar: Nearly ten thousand contractual employees who are the frontrunners of the healthcare sector in J&K are suffering in absence of monetary perks and regularization policy by the government.
The National Health Mission (NHM) employees have been on strike for the last nine days.
“No regularisation policy has been framed by the government so far even though most of the NHM employees have been working for more than 10 years in different positions,” Dr Suhail Naik, President Doctors Association Kashmir said.
The indifferent approach of the government has badly affected the healthcare services, as NHM employees have stayed away from duties since December 20.
“Many out-patients had to go back home. Temporary arrangements were made to attend to emergency and medico-legal cases,” a health administrator said.
The DAK president said the health authorities have canceled night-offs of all regular doctors and paramedics as hospitals were facing acute shortage of staff following the strike.
“These employees are the backbone of every hospital. Patients are facing a huge inconvenience in rural as well as urban hospitals along with extra work being taxed from regular staff,” Dr Naik said.
He said the NHM employees have been working on meagre salaries for more than a decade and don’t have any job security.
“Their unflinching role in decreasing Infant mortality rate to historic 24 can’t be undermined. The government should meet the aggrieved employees and assure them of executing their demands,” he said.
Abdul Rouf, spokesperson Joint Employees’ Coordination Committee of NHM told Kashmir Reader that despite several reminders and appeals “the state government never formed any policy for us”.
“They always delayed the implementation of monetary benefits and salary hike. Our main demand for regularization has also not been met despite repeated requests,” Rouf said. “Our salaries are half of what is drawn by regular government employee of the same rank.”
Although the government recently came out with a regularization policy for contract employees and daily wagers who have served for ten years, there is no policy for NHM employees yet.
“The (NHM) project was started by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and the state authorities did not allow them to enjoy other benefits at par with other employees in the state Health department,” Rouf said.
Director NHM, Dr Mohan Singh told Kashmir Reader that the Health department and NHM authorities have sent a detailed proposal to Finance department following the demands of the employees.
“A detailed proposal has been sent to the Finance Department to look for financial implications if demands of NHM employees are met,” he said.
“I can’t say what policy will be formed. But the picture will be clear once the Finance department responds, because we are taking the issue seriously now and something substantial will come soon,” he said.
Dr Naik said that as an immediate measure government should increase the salaries of NHM employees and entitle them with leave benefits and job security.
“The government must break the silence and should come forward with a positive attitude and written assurance so that NHM employees will be willing to return to their respective duties,” he said.
“The Supreme Court ruling that temporary employees are also entitled to regular pay scale along with dearness allowances vindicates stand of protesting employees that their demands are genuine,” Dr Naik added.
The Supreme court verdict in civil appeal NO 2013 of 2013 dated 26 -10-2017, supreme court has held that principle of equal pay for equal work has to be made applicable to all those engaged as daily wagers, contractual, or casual who perform same duties as regular employees.