THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 868 junior doctors have resigned from Covid-19 duty to protest against the salary cut introduced by the state government to tide over the financial crunch. They have given two weeks’ notice to the government after their request to exempt them from the ‘salary challenge’ fell on deaf ears. The government appointed the junior doctors as Temporary Medical Officers for a three-month period to tide over the human resource crisis following the pandemic outbreak.
The Kerala Junior Doctors Association had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, health minister and principal secretary last week to exempt them from the ‘salary challenge’. Currently, the state government deduct six-day salary of all its employees to mobilise fund for Covid-19 containment measures. As per the current contract, junior doctors draw a monthly salary of `42,000. Kerala Junior Doctors Association secretary Dr Krishnapriya T S said that after the salary challenge and tax deductions, they get only `27,000.
“Our posts are temporary and we were recruited for a period of three months. We have been working on the frontline ever since we joined duty. It’s totally unfair to cut salary and many of us are taking money from our own pockets to cover our daily expenses. We took up this issue with the authorities many a time in the past few weeks but we didn’t get a positive response from any of the authorities,” said Krishnapriya. According to sources, junior doctors quitting en masse would have an adverse impact on the ongoing fight against the pandemic.
“The government is unable to fill the vacancies or recruit more doctors to strengthen the fight because people are not ready to come forward. These doctors are deployed for swab collection duties, CFLTCs and many other field activities. It would be impossible for the state government to fill these vacancies,” a source said.