Lucknow: More than one lakh employees of various health institutions across Uttar Pradesh (UP) under the National Health Mission (NHM) have not received salaries in the last one-and-a-half months due to the “lack of budget”, the Joint NHM Employees Union said on Friday.
The workers, including comprising auxiliary nurses and midwives, computer operators, lab technicians, pharmacists, paramedical staff, doctors, Grade IV employees, managers, Ayush doctors and district-level staff, were asked to provide emergency services during the pandemic but were not paid.
The union has appealed to deputy chief minister and health minister Brajesh Pathak to look into the matter and written a letter to the chief secretary and the principal secretary of the department.
In the letter, the union said that the authorities claim lack of budget as the reason for the delay in payment of salary to the tune of Rs 150 crore. “About one lakh employees are still waiting for the salary for April. Just 10 days are left for May to end and we have no information from the NHM about our salaries. It is becoming difficult for the employees to run their households,” the union’s state general secretary Yogesh Upadhyay wrote.
“The salary for March was also delayed by 10 days. However, for April, the employees have not received any answer. The authorities are not interacting with us on the issue,” Upadhyay further wrote adding that the union had written letters everyday to remind the state government of the delay in salaries.
The employees were forced to borrow money from friends and relatives to pay their children’s fees and purchase essential items, Upadhyay added. The union demanded that the salaries should be released at the earliest and the state government ensure that the staff does not face this problem in the future. Union leaders said that they would protest if the salaries are not paid in two weeks.
Amit Singh, a Gorakhpur-based NHM worker, told Newsclick, “The working class played a crucial role in the BJP’s victory [in the Assembly election]. Now, it’s time for the party to fulfil the promises made in its poll manifesto. There are more than one lakh NHM workers employed with the health department on meagre salaries for the past 10 to 15 years but successive governments didn’t do anything for them.”
The Haryana government, according to Singh, gave permanent status to its NHM employees, including paramedical staff, Grade IV employees, nursing staff and medical staff, but “no other state, including Uttar Pradesh, is thinking about giving permanent status to them. Rather, they are harassing us by not paying salaries on time”.
Newsclick made several calls to the NHM mission director seeking his response but they went unanswered.
Last year, hundreds of NHM contractual employees across UP went on an indefinite strike demanding ‘equal pay for equal work’ along the lines of the regular staff, health insurance during COVID-19 and regularisation of jobs. On the call of the Uttar Pradesh National Health Mission Contract Employees Union, the NHM contractual staff held a mass protest at the chief medical officer’s office in Lucknow and raised the issue of pay discrimination.