UP: 9 Months Without Salary, Covid-19 Health Workers Threaten to Go for ‘Mass Immolation’
Image Courtesy: NDTV
Lucknow: After not receiving a salary for more than nine months, at least 26 contractual data entry operators (DEOs) and lab technicians, who worked with the Uttar Pradesh government on COVID-19 special duty, have threatened mass immolation on November 30 in the Basti district of Uttar Pradesh.
Tired of knocking on the doors of district administration and National Health Mission (NHM), employees deputed at different community health centres in Basti district have been running from pillar to post. They have also approached the City Livelihood Centre (CLC) through which they were hired during the first wave of COVID-19, but all in vain. They said several correspondences have been made with the Health Department in this regard, but no satisfactory solution has been devised.
“Now, our patience is running out and if our salaries are not cleared by Monday, all of us 26 employees will go for mass immolation on November 30. We have informed the district magistrate about our plight and despite her promise to release pending dues on November 15, it has not been delivered,” Vivek Kumar Pandey, a lab technician told NewsClick.
He added, “Since the staff under the NHM are the backbone of the health services in the state, timely release of our salaries should be the priority of the state authority so that employees perform their duties effectively and efficiently. Our demands for the release of our fund to release pending salaries and timely release of our salary henceforth are within reason and our grievances are genuine.”
The staffers who have been protesting are third-party workers hired by a private company, which has not paid their salaries for the months between March and November.
Suraj Kumar Pandey, another employee, who is a lab technician, said, “The Health Department needs us and we’ve always been there to serve the district. But unpaid for months now, we’re on the verge of starvation and are in no position to work.”
All that the outsourced lab technicians and data operators want is timely payment and better treatment, Ragini Tripathi, a data operator said. “I get Rs 12,000 per month, and payment is always delayed. We have been selected for permanent posts, but have not been appointed. Our salaries would have gone up to Rs 35,000. We get peanuts for the risks we take. My family members want me to quit this job where I am not respected,” distraught Ragini told NewsClick.
The health workers said that it is unfortunate that they have been forced to take this course of action and publicly publish their grievances to draw the attention of the authorities. “We, the employees under NHM, have been made to work without a salary since the month of March and this shows the apathy of the current BJP government and the Health Department,” alleged another employee.
In a letter to the district magistrate, the aggrieved employees said that they are going through immense financial hardships, which is making it difficult for them to perform their duties efficiently and fulfil financial commitments to their families. They further stated in the letter that they cannot continue to work without their salaries and they have been left with no other avenue, but to "make our voices heard [with] drastic measures".
Expressing unhappiness over the withholding of their salaries, the letter emphasised that the employees have been forced to take such a decision to ensure that the higher authorities finally take heed.
NewsClick spoke with Arun Tripathi, manager from CLC, who said that the salaries are stuck since the Health Department has not yet released funds. He expressed hope that the dues would be cleared in two or three days.
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