Health workers demand pay equality, go on strike

The contractual workers who were demanding pay parity include ANMs, staff nurses, doctors, pharmacists and lab technicians.

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A one-day strike was planned across the country by 28000 contractual staff of the National Health Mission (NHM), who have been demanding salaries on par with the permanent staff.

In Karnataka, however, all contractual workers in the State’s health department across all districts went on strike for a day. District Health Officers have issued notices stating that all contractual and outsourced staff that joined the strike will be considered as absent for work that day, and no leave will be allowed to any permanent medical and paramedical staff.

There are about 22,000 staff members in NHM comprising doctors and nurses. The pay disparity between the permanent and contractual staff is rather evident. For instance, an auxiliary nurse midwife or ANM employed by NHM earns Rs 10,000, whereas a permanent employee may earn anywhere between Rs 14,000 to Rs 16,000. Employees of NHM receive an annual raise of five per cent as per the norms of the Central Government.

Vasu H V, president, Karnataka State Health Department Contract Employees Forum, shared that unlike what was directed by the Supreme Court — that equal wages be paid for equal work, in keeping with the Contract Workers Act also —the staff is presently being paid only 50 per cent of the salary they rightfully deserve.

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