1,400 striking health staff fired in Punjab

Action after NHM employees fail to rejoin | Voluntary workers to be hired

1,400 striking health staff fired in Punjab

Healthcare workers have been demanding regularisation of jobs. file

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10

As Punjab grapples with the Covid pandemic, the state government today terminated the services of around 1,400 protesting contract employees working under the National Health Mission (NHM) after they refused to join work.

Most from Jalandhar district

  • Most of the sacked employees belonged to Jalandhar district (318), followed by Tarn Taran (182), Gurdaspur (177), Fazilka (113), Ferozepur (108), Hoshiarpur (99) and Pathankot (89)
  • Those terminated include auxiliary nurse midwives, nurses, data entry operators, Ayurvedic medical officers, community health officers, multipurpose health workers, etc

Around 3,000 employees had been on strike for the past one week, demanding regularisation of their services. The government had given an ultimatum to the protesting employees to join work by 10 am today or their services would be terminated.

Around 1,600 joined work today. The remaining 1,400 failed to report to duty by this evening, prompting the government to issue their termination orders.

Acting under the Disaster Management Act, the National Health Mission Director said the strike had posed a threat to the lives of people amid the ongoing Covid pandemic, so the services of the employees had been terminated.

The district civil surgeons had been asked to recruit voluntary staff to replace the sacked employees.

Those terminated include auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), nurses, data entry operators, Ayurvedic medical officers, community health officers (CHOs), multipurpose health workers, etc.

A majority of the employees sacked belonged to Jalandhar district (318), followed by Tarn Taran (182), Gurdaspur (177), Fazilka (113), Ferozepur (108), Hoshiarpur (99) and Pathankot (89). In 10 districts, including Barnala, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Mansa, Moga, Mohali Muktsar, SBS Nagar, Ropar and Sangrur, all employees joined work before the deadline.

The strike had adversely affected the ‘Covid prevention drive’, especially in the rural areas of the state. Due to the weeklong absence of CHOs, ANMs, etc. from health and wellness centres, there had been a spike in positivity and death rates as they played a key role in sampling and tracing of suspected patients.

Considering the medical emergency, state Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu had urged the agitating NHM employees to resume their duties by Monday morning.

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