UP: Contractual ‘Corona Warriors' Not Paid Salaries for 4 Months in Prayagraj
Image Courtesy: The New Indian Express
Lucknow: Left in the lurch despite working overtime across both waves of COVID-19, hundreds of healthcare workers, including lab technicians, security guards, paramedical staff and Class IV employees hired on contract basis at Tej Bahadur Sapru (Beli) Hospital of Sangam city have not received their salaries for the past four months, nor the incentive announced by the government.
Demanding regularisation of their service and payment of pending salaries, over 100 retrenched COVID warriors held a protest. The protestors, who shouted slogans against the state government and district administration, accused the authorities of non-payment of four month’s salary and incentive amount, as promised during the pandemic.
They said they had approached the health authorities several times but were told that there was some issue with funds. “If we are not paid salaries in the next few days, we will sit on a dharna and also approach the Chief Minister,” Lavkush, a protester said.
The protesters said the current government had announced incentives ranging from Rs 15,00 to Rs 3,000 for doctors, nurses and other staff who got involved with COVID patients directly and continuously for three months between April and June of 2021.
“Not only did we not hear about the incentives, as of now, none of us has received salaries. When we asked the administration or our respective Chief Medical Officers (CMO), they said they have not received the funds,” said the protesters, who have threatened to go on indefinite hunger strike if their demand for salary release is not met.
They have three key demands: clear pending salary; provide all of them with the promised incentive; provide extension of contracts to those who ask for them; and provide incentive marks.
"Health workers work for 12 hours a day and the honorarium is not being paid. We are starving due to lack of salary. Our landlords are warning us to vacate the room due to non-payment of rent. Where will we all go now?" said some protesters.
Another health worker claimed that Beli Hospital, a government-run facility, was turned into a COVID hospital and the government gave them the title of "Corona Warriors" but unfortunately, the families of these 'warriors' are on the brink of starvation due to non-payment of salaries for four months.
"We performed our duties with dedication amid the pandemic, little knowing that we will be treated in this manner. If this is how the government treats the corona warriors, we can imagine how insensitive the government is with regard to the health sector and why they failed to tackle the COVID crisis, especially during the second wave," he said.
Incidentally, this is not an isolated case of pending salaries of health workers in Prayagraj. Scores of healthcare workers, who were at the forefront of fighting the pandemic, have been protesting over non-payment of dues in several districts of Uttar Pradesh. The state government had promised them financial incentives for COVID duty but failed to deliver.
"Hundreds of us were infected with the virus while at least four of our colleagues died from it. We still did our duty. But, we have been denied our salaries for almost four-months," Abinav Tiwari, a health worker, said.
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