BENGALURU: DS Jagadeesh (63) was given a ‘Corona Warrior’ award on Independence Day, for his service as an ambulance driver during the pandemic. He ferried patients from Channagiri taluk hospital to Davanagere district hospital, from surrounding villages to the taluk hospital, and patients to Covid Care Centres in Kerebilchi and Kakanur. An outsourced health worker, hired by the health and family welfare department through an agency, his salary remains Rs 11,600 per month, with no pension, job security, transfer option, incentives or leave. His counterparts, who are permanent workers and drive ambulances for the government, earn around Rs 36,000 per month, with regular increments.
Close on the heels of the ASHA workers’ strike, the state government is facing more opposition, this time from nearly 30,000 contract and outsourced health workers who stayed off duty on Thursday. The workers fall under health and family welfare and medical education departments, and their major demands include regularisation, hike in pay on par with permanent employees and job security.
A committee formed on June 3 to look into their demands was to submit a report in three months, which has not happened. Vishwaradhya HY, president, Karnataka State Health and Medical Education Department Contractual and Outsourced Employees’ Association, said, “Department officials threatened to fire us if we don’t return to work, but we will not budge. Several workers have not received salaries for 2-3 months. We don’t get Covid risk incentive or compensation if we die while on duty, or have health or life insurance.”
The association comprises Ayush doctors, ambulance drivers, staff nurses, data entry operators, lab technicians, counsellors, supervisors, ANMs and health programme supervisors.A regular Ayush doctor earns Rs 56,000 while a contract or outsourced Ayush doctor gets between Rs 17,000 and Rs 25,000. A staff nurse earns Rs 34,000, while a contract nurse gets Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000. An ANM earns Rs 30,000, while a contract ANM earns RS 8,000 to RS 10,000. “If they had called us for discussions or fulfilled some promises, we would not go on strike,” Vishwaradhya said.