On Friday morning, 47 daily wage workers at the Women and Children’s Hospital, Thycaud, learnt that their services have been terminated. No notice had warned them about the sudden change in their destinies. All of them had been serving the hospital for over five years, with some having been there for 35 years. Five of them have physical disabilities, seven are widows and many are too old to restart their life.
“The termination notice was handed over to us when we were about to sign in the attendance register. The hospital authorities informed us that the decision came from Hospital Management Council (HMC) chairperson Beena who is also the director of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM),” said Mahesh Kumar, one of the terminated staff and also the CITU district joint secretary.
Following discussions held by CITU and CPM representatives with Hospital Superintendent Jose G D’Cruz, it was decided that the workers could continue to work on a temporary basis until May 16. An official said that he couldn’t renew the contracts till May 16 as it would be considered a violation of the electoral code of conduct. Union members said that if the management fails to reinstate the employees, they would launch a strike.A senior official at the hospital said that the staff were terminated because their 179-day contract had ended on Friday. “Every six months, the contract is renewed with a day’s break,” he said.
Mahesh Kumar suspects political vendetta behind the termination. He said just a month ago, 11 daily wage staff, belonging to another political party, were terminated. They were inducted by the HMC in September 2013. But after a member of the HMC challenged the decision to induct the 11 people, the Directorate of Health Services decided to terminate them as soon as their 179-day contract ended. The 11 people went to the High Court arguing that their tenure should be extended just like the others. Instead, the hospital authorities had ensured egalitarian spirit by terminating all daily wage staff.