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108 and 102 ambulance staff on strike again as their demands not met despite agreement

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Shimla: Tired of repeated false assurances and increasing exploitation by the GVK-EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute) that runs 108 and 102 emergency services in Himachal Pradesh, the staff of these services on Tuesday evening went on another strike after their talks with the Director of the National Health Mission failed.

The union of the employees has made a call for a protest in which workers from the various districts would take out a silent march from the HP Vidhan Sabha to the Secretariat in Chotta Shimla.

Earlier, the employees had gone on a strike in June this year. The Himachal Pradesh government had imposed Esma (Essential Services Maintenance Act) on the striking employees. The service provider had also terminated about 63 employees to create panic among the others striking. However, instead of threatening them, the termination fueled the anger among the employees.

The employees extended their strike up to 10 days before the government intervened and held a meeting with the officials of the GVK-EMRI and representatives of the striking staff in the presence of labour commissioner and Director, National Health Mission.

The GVK-EMRI had accepted all the demands of the employees along with taking back employees suspended or terminated during the strike. The government, as well as the service provider, were completely on back-foot as the strike took a toll on the health services.

The GVK-EMRI had assured the employees that within one month, all of their demands would be met.

However, on August 7, 2018, the employees found out that none of their demand were met. They again received another assurance. Following it, the employees have now again decided to go on a strike and stage a protest.

Though the Department claims it would ensure making up for the shortage of drivers but patients are likely to take a hit in every district where the ambulances would be off the road due to the strike.

The staff had been reaching the government with its grievance time to time, but the government chose to stand by the side of the company every time.

The employees working for the GVK-EMRI for over last five years have not received any increment despite the fact that they are made to work 12-16 hours a day, which is unlawful,

the head of the union Puran Chand told Himachal Watcher.

The company never paid anything for this overtime, he alleged.

There is no standard policy regarding the salary of the staff. While some employees receive Rs. 6,000 to 8,000, others are being paid 12,000 to 15, 000. The company is paying the salary in an arbitrary manner. Newly employed staff is offered more salary than what is being paid to employees who are serving for past five to eight years,

Puran Chand alleged.

The HP Government had entered into a contract with the GVK under ‘Atal Swasthya Seva’ scheme in 2010 under the regime of then Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

However, the company has turned into a sort of dictator using its powers to threaten and suppress protesting voices of the workers, Puran Chand said.

An FIR has also been registered against a senior Employee’s Provident Fund Organization Officer and a middleman of GVK company for offering and accepting a bribe. The middleman had paid a bribe of Rs. 80,000 to the officer of the EPF office in exchange for reducing EPF liabilities of the company, the striking staff allege.

The ambulances are in poor condition due to lack of regular maintenance. Some of them are not even in the condition of operating properly. However, these ambulances are still passed without actually providing any maintenance, the striking employees allege.

When the staff tried to highlight this issue regarding maintenance, the company deducted salaries of the staff to discourage them,

he further revealed.

The workers alleged that such deterring actions are taken against anyone who tries to express their dissatisfaction with the arbitrary functioning of the service provider.

The staff has been fighting this battle for their rights for a long time now.

The main demands of the striking staff include:

  • Ending arbitrary functioning of the GVK-EMRI
  • Recognition of 108 staff on par with contract/outsourcing employees of various agencies under Health department
  • Payment of salaries as per the provision
  • Eight hours shift in place of current 12 hours
  • Full deposits in provident fund accounts
  • Payment for overtime including those pending since last five years

The staff has received support from various other organizations as well as oppositions of the ruling government. Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has also extended a support to the striking employees.

The agreement between company and workers for 12 hours duty is totally illegal and against labour laws. This has been endorsed by the government also. As per law, no worker can be asked to work for more than 8 hours. If the employee work more than 8 hours, he would have to be paid for overtime which is double the wages,

Sanjay said.

These are the basic policies under a neo-liberal regime that outsource services to companies and let workers get exploited and allow companies to extract profit, he added.

We demand that the government should intervene immediately and contract should be scrapped by the government. These workers should be regularised under the Health Department as per the policy of government because most of them have completed 5 years of services,

Sanjay said.

Amid this delay and series of false assurances, the government officials and the service provider might not be affected but the public is suffering due to the strikes. 

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Reports 87 COVID-19 Deaths in 11 Days With a Steep Rise in Cases

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COVID-19 deaths in Himachal pradesh on november 10

Shimla-With nine more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the tally for Himachal Pradesh has jumped to 399. The state is witnessing a surge in November as 87 deaths were reported during the last 11 days. Yesterday’s fatalities included seven males and two females aged between 45 to 87 years. Find the reasons for these fatalities below:

himachal pradesh -Update on covid-19 deaths

Further, according to the state Health Department’s official statistics, 610 new cases of COVID-19 were detected yesterday, of which Shimla reported highest (118) cases, followed by Mandi (116).

In Mandi district, as many as 26 more teachers and some students reportedly tested positive yesterday. The infected also included two doctors of Tanda Medical College, Kangra, and a couple of policemen in Sakoh.

Operation theatre at the Kamala Nehru Hospital, Shimla, was reportedly closed for a week. Similarly, the women police station in Shimla was also closed following the detection of a case.

Further, the state High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of a news report published in an English daily and issued a notice to the government. The news pertained to Indira Gandhi Medical College, which ran out of space for COVID-19 patients in isolation wards.

As per official data, the total for COVID-19 in the state had reached 27418 till yesterday evening (9 pm), of which 5605 were active cases. Mandi district has reported highest 4194 cases, followed by Solan (3958), Shimla (3725), and Kangra (3635).

The state government is barely speaking on the alarming rise in fatalities and its strategy to control it. But Chief Minister, while addressing a public meeting at Sihunta under Bhatiyat Assembly Constituency yesterday, did hail the Prime Minister and claimed that the nation is out of COVID-19 crisis.

“He (PM) has successfully brought the Nation out of Covid-19 crisis,”

Chief Minister said.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin for November 11, 2020 (9 pm)

 

 

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Himachal Reports 12 COVID-19 Deaths in Single Day, Surge in Cases in Shimla

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths till diwali

Shimla-COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as a record 12 fatalities were reported on Tuesday. Of the 611 new positive cases yesterday, Shimla reported highest 148 with seven fatalities. The deceased included 11 males and a female aged between 47 to 92 years.  During the last three days, the state has reported 25 fatalities. Find the details regarding the causes of deaths below:

Himachal Pradesh Record COVID-19 deaths

The state government had yesterday decided to close all educational institutes in Himachal for 15 days after over a hundred teachers and students tested positive in schools. The government termed it as a special vocation for students, teachers, and non-teaching staff of all educational institutes.

The capital has witnessed a surge as over 750 cases were reported during the last six days. In the season of festivity and marriages, social distancing and other guidelines issued by the MHA for personal protection are being flaunted, which is only fueling the spread. 

On top of it, the COVID-19 Hospitals in the state have begun to run out of beds for patients in isolation wards. The largest medical facility in the state – Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital- was packed to its full capacity, which was only 85 beds. Dr Rajneesh Pathania, Principal of IGMC, confirmed the report. According to media reports, DDU hospital, Shimla, had also run out of space. The government is yet to prepare the make-shift hospitals it had announced a couple of months ago. 

So far, according to the official statistics, the state had reported a total of 26808 cases till yesterday evening (9 pm), and the official COVID-19 death tally had mounted to 390.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin for November 9, 2020 (9 pm)

Update Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 for november 10, 2020

Featured Image: [email protected]

 

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Amid Alarming Surge in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths, Hospitals Including IGMC Running Out of Space

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covid-19 in himachal pradesh igmc beds full

Shimla– Amid the festive season, Himachal Pradesh is witnessing an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities. As a matter of huge concern, the Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, Shimla, has run out of beds in isolation facility and can’t accommodate more patient, unless someone is discharged or dies. There was space for only 85 patients at the hospital, which is full presently.

The DDU hospital, too, is running out of capacity with a surge in cases. Further, make-shift hospitals announced by the state government haven’t seen light of day. IGMC is the largest medical facility of the state and COVID-19 patients in critical condition were referred here.  

The situation could worsen due to the ongoing festive and wedding season. Markets are crowded and people are hardly following social distancing norms in marriages.

Further, yesterday seven people including a 16-year-old girl lost their lives. The decision to open schools seems to be backfiring as hundreds of teachers and several students were found positive for COVID-19 during the past few days. There are speculations that the state government could decide on closing schools for some time in the Cabinet meeting to be held today.

Details regarding the causes of fatalities below:

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths in november 2020 f

On Monday, five doctors and nine staff nurses at the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Medical College and Hospital, Nerchowk in Mandi district, tested positive.

Yesterday, the state reported a record 711 confirmed cases with seven fatalities in a single day. Shimla district reported the highest 204 confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 death tally has now mounted to 378, while the total number of cases had reached 26197 till yesterday evening (till 9 pm).

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin for November 9, 2020 (9 pm)

 

Himachal Pradesh covid-19 cases on november 10

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