NHM contractual workers’ strike enters 9th day

| | Ranchi
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NHM contractual workers’ strike enters 9th day

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 | PNS | Ranchi

The indefinite strike by contractual workers of National Health Mission (NHM) demanding paid leave in exchange of the extra services during the Covid-19 crisis and implementation of an HR policy entered its ninth day on Tuesday.

While NHM authorities have agreed to the protesting workers’ demand of implementing an HR policy and giving them day-off on Saturdays and Sundays, the protestors have refused to resume work until the decision of terminating a senior contractual employee is revoked.

A senior contractual employee, Jwala Prasad, was terminated earlier this month for being allegedly involved in financial irregularities. The protestors have demanded reinstatement of the fired employee and accused senior officials of harassing him. NHM authorities, however, have stood their ground and refused to give in to any coercion for reinstating the said employee.

“We have already agreed to their demands of preparing an HR policy for contractual employees and giving them day-off on Sundays. But we cannot reinstate an employee terminated for involvement in financial irregularities,” said NHM Director Bhuvnesh Pratap Singh.

Another NHM official said that the government has already announced one month’s extra pay to the frontline and healthcare workers who have worked during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Isn’t one month’s extra salary enough?” he asked.

About the demand of reinstating the terminated employee, the official said that a termination done as a disciplinary action cannot be simply revoked. “The said employee is free to knock on the door of labour court, but we will not bow down to someone found guilty of financial irregularities,” he added.

Initially, about 140 contractual workers at NHM campus in Ranchi had gone on a strike, but gradually, contractual workers in other districts have also joined them, the protestors said.

According to NHM officials, about 40 contractual workers are drivers, about the same number of contractual employees work as computer operators and the remaining 60 are involved in “miscellaneous” activities. The contractual employees worked without day-off for several months during the first and second wave of Covid-19. The protesting contractual workers have claimed that several schemes run by the NHM have been hit due to their strike, but they were not willing to resume work until the government gives them assurance in writing about fulfilling their demands.

“They want us back because their work is getting affected. They have to give us in writing that they have agreed to all our demands,” said a contractual worker, requesting anonymity.

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