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UP: 186 Healthcare Staff Retrenched in Meerut Without Prior Notice, Threaten Massive Protest

The protesting health workers slammed the government for letting them go without prior notice after the termination of their services.
meerut healtcare staff

Image Courtesy: NCR news

Lucknow: As many as 186 contract doctors, lab technicians, sanitation workers and other paramedical staff recruited through the District Urban Development Agency (DUDA) for COVID-19 duty in 2020, staged a demonstration on Monday against the termination of their services in Meerut.

Their contract under DUDA was up till May. Regardless, before the end of May, the service of all 186 employees was terminated, citing the "unavailability of funds". The agitating employees demanded extension of services or accommodations under other National Health Mission (NHM) schemes.

During May last year, when the state was reeling under the second COVID-19 wave, these medical and paramedical staff deputed at different government-run hospitals, community health centres, and public health centres had to work round the clock without taking leaves. Now all of a sudden, they have been shown the door. Their plight does not end here. They also have not received their salary for the last three months.

"Had I been informed by giving notice, I would have seen a job at some other place or would have made some other arrangement. Now in such a situation, without getting a salary for the last three months, where will I go?" asked Dr Skand Gupta, who was leading the protest, while speaking to NewsClick.

The protesting health workers slammed the government for following a "use and throw" policy and sending them back without prior notices after the termination of their services on May 31. However, they submitted a memorandum to the district administration addressed to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and demanded his immediate intervention. They demanded that their service contract be renewed without any further delay and they should be given job security.

“This is unjust. We have not been issued any notice. Most of us are not financially sound and we had worked wholeheartedly during the pandemic, risking our lives as well as that of our families. This is not done. We will fight until they call us back with job security,” said a protester who was a staff nurse at a primary health centre.

The protesting employees threatened that they would hold a massive protest rally on June 5 outside the state headquarters of the Health Department in Lucknow and gherao the residence of the chief minister. The agitating employees warned the government to fulfil their demands or get ready for a more intense protest. 

Savita, a protesting health worker, told NewsClick, “Instead of awarding the health workers for their extraordinary work during Covid, the government has discontinued various allowances of ours. This is a shameful act."

A senior health official based in Lucknow said that over 7,000 employees, including those on contract and those outsourced and employed in about 15 departments, have been retrenched by the Uttar Pradesh government in the past year.

“On one hand, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appeals to the private factory owners not to remove any labourers from jobs during the Covid period, and on the other, the government itself is removing its workers from employment who were once corona warriors,” Uttar Pradesh Karamchari Sangh alleged in a statement.

The union claimed that the biggest victims of retrenchment are low-paid third and fourth-tier employees on outsourcing.

“Several protests are being held by these employees in different areas of Uttar Pradesh on a regular basis, but the power-drunk BJP government pays no heed to the protesting workers' demand,” Anirugh, a health worker, complained while speaking to NewsClick.

He claimed that paramedics were out of jobs even during the pandemic and were not being accommodated in various hospitals. "At many places, the paramedical staff is not being paid salaries on time," he alleged.

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