Editorial: NHM employees strike

Srinagar: With the National Health Mission (NHM) employees sticking to their guns of not ending their strike, the health sector in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been hit badly. Now that the government has formed a four-member committee to examine the demands of protesting NHM employees there is some hope that the stalemate may end soon.

The government during the assembly session has announced that a four-member committee has been constituted by it to examine the demands of NHM employees in the state. The committee will examine the issue and then formulate a plan to be submitted to the finance ministry for approval.

Though the protest by the NHM employees has attracted large attention owing to the fact that the employees are associated with a crucial department, but examining the facts on ground one feels that the employees have been forced to take the extreme step.

The protesting employees alleged that during the past several years the government has made various promises to them, but on ground no promise was fulfilled. The allegations seem to be genuine to some extent as the NHM employees are facing huge disparity in pay scales and other service rules. 

The state has over 11,000 NHM, J&K State AIDS Control Society (JKSACS) and Revised National Tuberculosis control programme (RNTCP) employees, including doctors and paramedics, who have been pressing for their demands for regularization of services.

Though the government has initiated some measures for the welfare of the NHM and employees of other bodies like accidental insurance, employees provident fund (EPF), earned leave and maternity leave-have been extended to them. A one percent hike in the overall remuneration of all employees was also offered, but all these measures have failed to get them call off their strike.

NHM and other employees who are on strike have been raising the issue of confirming around 60,000 daily rated workers by the state government. True, these workers who are not qualified like the NHM staff have made their entry into government service through shoddy means or even through the back door, while as the NHM employees have been selected through a well managed system and procedure.

As of now, an NHM employee gets a meager remuneration package compared to the other staffers of the state government. Therefore, their open rebellion is justified. What is worrying is that the stat government has been ignoring their pleas for quite some time and the government has let the situation reach a boiling point where the employees will not budge but will try to seek full redressal of their grievances.

In all this, the state health department has taken a hit which the government should also view with seriousness.


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