GUWAHATI, Sept 5 - Emergency medical services across the State were today paralysed as staff of GVK EMRI began an indefinite strike since midnight protesting �violation� of labour laws by the company.
A senior health department official said though the government has not interfered yet as it was an �internal HR issue� of the company, it was watching the situation closely and contemplating action against the service provider.
�We are paying the company as per the terms of the contract. It is their responsibility to manage their internal issues. But we cannot allow them to take the public service for a ride. We are contemplating on taking action against the company,� the official told The Assam Tribune.
Meanwhile, the government has asked the district administration to make local arrangements using the MMU (mobile medical unit) and Adoroni ambulances to ensure that the impact of the strike is minimum.
The 3,000 staff of the emergency medical response service are protesting the company�s decision to stop the privilege leave facility, enforce prolonged working hours and non-implementation of service rules. The staff say the company has stopped the salary increments since 2016.
A member of the GVK EMRI employees union said there are around 380 �108� ambulances operating in the State, and they attend to around 1,200 emergency cases on an average daily. Of the total 316 �102� ambulances, only 112 are functioning. Though the 102 service receives up to 800 calls, it can respond to some 600 cases daily.
The union alleged that the field staff have to work for 12 hours a day and the employees at the emergency response offices (EROs) have to work for more than nine hours which is not in accordance with the service rules. Since August 20, the employees had stopped reporting the cases.
Meanwhile, GVK EMRI authorities claimed that the grievances of the staff were being addressed and the employees union was spreading misinformation.
�Those staff who are eligible have been already given PL. We had assured to give an increment from July and the payment would be made with arrear along with the September salary. The issue of working hours is pending with the Labour Commissioner. It is an emergency service, so laws here are different. Moreover, they are given breaks between the working hours,� a spokesman of the service provider said.
He said the call centres were made functional by deploying a support staff of over 50 people since 9:30 in the morning. �We are using the 235 Adoroni ambulances which have been outsourced, besides ambulances of hospitals,� he said. An additional 30 staff have been recruited for the call centres today, the spokesman said, adding, the company may sack people who abstain from duty.