Frontline healthcare workers including resident doctors and nurses at Hindu Rao Hospital, one of the Covid-19 dedicated hospitals in Delhi, have threatened indefinite strike from Sunday in protest against non-payment of salaries for nearly four months.
In a letter to the administration, the resident doctors have said that they will desist from all Covid-related services that have been provided so far if the pending salaries are not cleared in the next 48 hours. The nursing staff would also join the indefinite strike.
“An emolument is an imperative way to enliven ones’ attitude but due to the negligence by the administration for 3.5 months, it seems more like penal servitude than moral discipline,” read the letter.
“This is in all physiological and psychical ways too dispiriting and heart-wrecking and we would like to regrettably disengage from the Covid facility…,” the letter read further.
“We are tormented in ways to surpass our ethics of being called as skilled workers to public demonstrators seeking our primitive right to be remunerated,” it said.
Hindu Rao hospital, run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), is the biggest municipal hospital in Delhi with 900 beds and it has been designated a dedicated Covid-19 treatment facility since mid-June when Delhi had witnessed a surge in number of positive cases.
According to Abhimanyu Sardana Bara, the president of the Hindu Rao Resident Doctors’ Association, even if the administration invokes the Pandemic Act, the RDA will place its defensein a way that it would not stop the hospital from running the services but the resident doctors would not have to give their services.
As of Saturday evening, there is no response from the side of administration.
On Wednesday, the doctors had protested over non-payment of their due salaries for the last three months and went on a "symbolic indefinite strike", officials said. A group of doctors, who were joined by nurses of the hospital, held placards and raised slogans demanding their due salaries, at the main gate of the facility.
"We are on a symbolic indefinite strike to make our voices heard to authorities, who have not responded to our appeal so far. We have been doing the symbolic pen down from 9 am to 12 noon for the last several days, as well as online protests, but no one listened to us," said Dr Sardana during the protest.
That’s why the protest took place and doctors who were not on COVID-19 rotational duty joined, he said.
"We are humans too and have a family to run. We are risking our lives for humanity in this pandemic. Is it too much to ask for our due salaries?" Sardana asked.
Earlier in June, the doctors at Hindu Rao have had to protest over the non-payment of salaries. Back then, the salaries from March to May were pending. After the intervention of Delhi High Court, the salaries for March to May had been paid in June and the salary for June had been paid in September.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government on Saturday ordered shifting of all COVID-19 patients from the civic-run Hindu Rao Hospital to its own facilities, days after the resident doctors went on a "symbolic indefinite strike" over non-payment of their salaries.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, interacting with reporters, said, as of now 20 patients are at the Hindu Rao Hospital.
"Today, we have ordered to shift all COVID-19 patients from Hindu Rao Hospital to our own facilities. They have the choice to be shifted to LNJP Hospital or any other government hospital nearby their homes," he said.
Hindu Rao Hospital falls under the jurisdiction of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDMC. Visiting the hospital, Jai Prakash, the Mayor of NDMC, said: "We have not been able to pay the salaries but we don't have any money. The Delhi government needs to clear its dues to us; the blame lies with the state government. I have come here to listen to the doctors' problems and show that I am concerned about them.”
However, Jain stated that, "The BJP is doing politics over the issue. They earn through several taxes, and if they can't run their hospitals, then they (NDMC) should hand them over to the Delhi government."
(With Inputs from PTI)