Use and throw? Frontline workers laid off after five months of hectic work, no pay

106 medical staff laid off, CS cites reduction due to lesser admissions after home-isolation protocol

Use and throw? Frontline workers laid off after five months of hectic work, no pay

Covid Care Centre staff at Meritorious School hold a protest by blocking the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road. File

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 27

The sudden reduction in Covid tally in the district has cost the livelihoods of 106 frontline health workers employed for Covid duties at the Meritorious School.

A day after protests by Volunteer Medical Staff for not being paid their salaries for the past five months, as many as 106 of the staff members were “rationalised’ (asked not to continue their duties until further orders). Those rationalised also include some of those who showed up for the protest on Tuesday, blocking the Kapurthala Chowk in Jalandhar, demanding their salaries. These volunteers still haven’t been paid their salaries and now, they were jobless, too, at least for the time being.

While a total of 164 people, including doctors, ward attendants, staff nurses and lab technicians, were hired for medical services amid rising cases in the month of May, 142 of them were included in the list of those laid off. While some of these 142 have already quit jobs, the remaining 106 have been asked not to continue with their duties.

The 54 staff members who have been retained include eight doctors, 20 ward attendants, 16 staff nurses and the number of lab technicians and pharmacists retained is eight (each). Meanwhile, the list of those asked to discontinue Covid duties includes 16 doctors (MBBS, BDS and BAMS), 18 lab technicians, 50 ward attendants, 18 pharmacists and 40 staff nurses.

Even though they were temporarily hired in view of the Covid scenario, some doctors allege a peeved department has laid them off a day after they sought their well-deserved salaries.

What the letters says...

The load at the Covid Care Centre has substantially decreased due to the new home-isolation instructions by the state government. In the past some time, those admitted have been reduced to less than 50 people. As per a letter by the DC office dated 23/9/2020, it is hence being instructed that staff employed at the Covid Care Centre be retained for only 100 patients, while the rest be rationalised...

A letter released by the Civil Surgeon’s office on September 24 states that the rationalised volunteers shall be called again if need be in keeping with government instructions. A doctor, who was the earliest to join Covid duties, said, “I am among the first doctors who set up the Covid facility at the Meritorious School. While we had been asked to work only at the Meritorious School, we were later deputed at the Civil Hospital, too, amid the scorching heat and very busy days at the flu corner. Now, a day after the protests, we get the instructions to discontinue duties. Clearly, it’s the department’s reply to our protest. This, too, while we are yet unpaid. The government seems to have adopted the use and throw policy with us. Amid the Covid crisis, we have been rendered jobless after five months of hectic work and no pay.”

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