Healthcare workers cannot strike: Karnataka govt

Amidst the pandemic and growing number of positive cases in the state, there have been a few protests by doctors, ASHA workers and some contractual staff demanding higher remuneration, wage parity, job security and so on

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With the number of COVID cases rising alarmingly by the day, the Karnataka government has issued a notification stating that healthcare workers or healthcare service providers across the state are prohibited from going on strike or carrying out disobedience movements of any sort. Any non-cooperation from public servants and healthcare workers will invite action under the Karnataka State Civil Services (Prevention of Strikes) Act, 1966.

About two months ago, ASHA workers had staged an agitation asking for an honorarium of Rs 12,000 and demanding personal protection equipment (PPE) kits. Only after the government had promised to fulfil their demands that the stir was called off. However, their demands are yet to be met.

Last month, doctors led by the Karnataka Government Medical Officers Association had called a strike, demanding revision of pay as per the Central government’s health scheme or pay equal to what the doctors in the Medical Education Department were paid. The strike was called off following discussions with ministers.

Another strike was called towards the end of September, wherein more than 30,000 contractual and outsourced employees of the State’s Health and Medical Education Department demanded job security and wages equal to the permanent staff.

With the notification, now no employees in the healthcare services space or any health personnel can refuse to work, or refrain from submitting reports, or avoid complying with orders issued by higher ups.

There are over six lakh reported cases of infection in Karnataka and over 9,000 lives have been lost so far. The number of positive cases is rising at an alarming rate of 10,000 a day.

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