BENGALURU: While the government urged people to bang utensils to show their appreciation for health workers, and even showered flower petals on hospitals, a year on, health workers on contract have alleged they are not being paid on time. Around 25,000 people, hired either by the National Health Mission (NHM) or by the Zilla Panchayat, work on contract in the state’s health system. While many contract workers hired by zilla panchayats have not been paid since January, those who work under the NHM and are paid by funds received from the Centre, get paid in tranches, such as once in three months. “I have not received my salary since January.
When we ask District Health Officers (DHO), they say there are no funds in the Zilla Panchayat. Our workload is heavier due to the pandemic, and we are also suffering financial issues,” said a doctor who works in Chikkaballapur on contract. He said the delays started in the past year. Another contract doctor from the same district faced a similar situation. “We have to carry out Covid vaccination, test suspected cases, provide non-Covid outpatient services, all at the same time at primary health centres, but we do not get compensated on time.
This is the condition in all districts and we are finding it difficult to manage,” said the doctor. Rachanna, a lab technician at Shahpur Taluk Hospital in Yadgir district, hired on contract under the NHM, has been getting paid once in three or four months. He raised the issue with the Deputy Commissioner and DHO, but to no avail. That they are not treated on par with permanent employees has been a source of indignation. “I last got paid at the end of January for the month of December. Contract and outsource workers are given false assurances. But this is not an issue for permanent employees. I have been working during the pandemic and tested positive myself,” Rachanna said.
The Karnataka State Health and Medical Education Department Contractual and Outsourced Employees’ Association wrote to the Yadgir DHO on February 8 about salaries delayed. Health Commissioner Dr Thrilok Chandra said there was not shortage of either NHM or zilla panchayat funds. He said the health department itself was pursuing the matter of salaries to ensure they are credited through the contract agency and that it has been done until March-end. “It is possible that some people may have been left out,” Dr Chandra said.