by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: At a time when the Covid19 cases are still rising and there is a possible threat of a third wave, scores of health care workers are risking their lives for a meagre sum of Rs 100 to 800 a month. These healthcare workers staged a protest against the government for not implementing the Minimum Wages Act in Jammu and Kashmir.
Termed as part-time and consolidated Health Workers, the association demanded payment as per the Minimum Wages Act approved by the Jammu and Kashmir government in 2018.
“The Health department had a maximum number of sweepers, helpers and drivers who risk their lives every day while dealing with the patients,” said Abdul Ahad Sheikh, Chairman of the Association. “There are around 1541 health care workers across Kashmir, who are not paid properly for their services.”
According to Sheikh, as per the Minimum Wages Act, the workers must be paid Rs 6700 per month but in Jammu and Kashmir, however, we are paid abysmally low despite decades of service to the department.
Sheikh said they are suffering since 1996 and there is no relief from bureaucratic procedures. He also alleged that they are discriminated against as their Jammu counterparts are being paid under the minimum wages act. However, for decades they are surviving in the hope of getting promoted from part-time worker to consultant to permanent health care worker.
Another protestor said that he has been working for decades for a paltry sum to support his family. “After polishing shoes in the morning, I leave for work. It takes me around Rs 80 to go to duty. My wife had to work as a helper to keep bread and butter going,” said Ghulam Muhammad Mocha, who is being paid Rs 1000 per month.
Many protestors said that their children’s education is suffering as they are not able to pay their fees and many of them choose to drop out.
“We appeal to the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and the health authorities to take the matter into consideration and implement the Minimum Wages Act by paying Rs 6700 to the consolidated workers,” he said.
At the time of filing of the report, Abdul Rashid War, Labour Commissioner, when contacted said he is on a flight.