Minister for Health & Medical Education, Bali Bhagat on Friday held the second round of talks with the representatives of the NHM employees and discussed all their issues and demands.
Principal Secretary Health & Medical Education, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Mandeep K. Bhandari, IG Jammu, SD Singh Jamwal, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan, Mission Director, NHM, Dr. Mohan Singh, Additional Secretary, K.S. Chib and representatives of NHM, RNTCP and NACO employees were present in the meeting.
The official statement reads that the Minister reiterated his appeal to the agitating employees to resume their work immediately as patient care in health institutions is suffering. He said and added that government has already taken the sympathetic view on their all outstanding issues, including regularization and moving gradually to address these complex issues.
He said as per the outcome of previous meetings with the NHM employees, the government had constituted a Committee of officers to examine their all issues on merit and the said Committee, along with other issues also recommended regularization of employees in a phased manner as it was difficult to regularize more than 8000 employees in one go, who is presently working in NHM and other related schemes in Health & Medical Education Department across the state which roughly involves a financial implication up to Rs. 225 crore annually. To begin with, under the first phase, the Health & Medical Department also referred the case of 1020 employees to the finance department for its consideration which involved a financial implication of Rs. 27.41 crore annually. This development was also conveyed to the representatives of the employees from time to time.
Taking humanitarian view on their demands, the government has also initiated some fresh welfare measures for the NHM and similarly situated employees, including extending the benefits of Accidental Insurance Scheme, EPF, paid medical leave for 15 days in an year, maternity leave in favor of the female employees which were not applicable to them earlier. Those drawing salary upto Rs. 15,000/- per month will be entitled to the benefits of EPF and government will contribute the mandatory employer’s share as well. Besides, the government has already sanctioned 5% increment to all categories of employees and also proposes to enhance another 1% over and above, said the Minister.
He said, “prolonging strike is unjustified and will not yield any result, but further aggravate the problems of the patients in the government health institutions.”
He urged them to resume their work immediately as their all genuine demands will be addressed in a phased manner with all sympathies. He said NHM is a purely government of India scheme and entire funding comes from the Centre and State government has no direct control to tinker with this scheme. This fact is well known to all employees as well. As and when the recruitment under NHM is done, it is specifically mentioned in the advertisements that these posts are purely on contractual basis under a specific Central sponsored scheme, and that is whey an affidavit is mandatorily obtained from each appointed employee so that they cannot stake their claim for regularization, he asserted.
However, keeping these things aside, the government is sympathetic to their demands and wants to address these, but adopting the tactics of putting unnecessary pressure on the government by way of frequent strikes and hampering health services is quite unjustified and uncalled for and government views it seriously. He said, if the employees continue to strike even after the clear-cut assurances from the government, it reserves the right to take action under law against such elements who are instigating the innocent employees to resort to agitation path.
The representatives of employees, however, did not give any indication to call off their strike immediately but said that they would apprise the employees about the latest development and take a decision accordingly.