Ambulance stir: FIRs against 12 staff, 2 detained

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Bhubaneswar: A day after the Odisha government enforced the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against the striking workers of the 108 ambulance, FIRs were lodged against 12 employees of the emergency service at Mahakalapada police station in Kendrapara while two workers were detained at Ghasipura in Keonjhar district.

“Some of the workers were detained in Bolangir, Jharsuguda and Bhadrak districts yesterday, but some others started reporting back to duty,” National Health Mission (NHM) Mission Director Shalini Pandit had told media persons yesterday.

Stating that the government has made alternative arrangements to ensure smooth health services, Pandit said the government would not hesitate to arrest the ambulance workers if they create further disturbance.

Employees of the 108 ambulance service comprising drivers, helpers and medical technicians have been agitating for long demanding payment of minimum guaranteed wages, 15 per cent annual increment and construction of rest shades for them.

Pandit said yesterday Ziqitza Health Care Limited, the employer of the striking workers, has agreed to increase salary percentage of the staff by 12 per cent. The company has also agreed to pay annual increment and food allowance to the workers.

“Matters which could not be sorted out have been referred to the Industrial Tribunal for a final decision,” she had said.

Therefore, the state government had requested the 108 ambulance staff to call off strike and discuss the issues,” she added.

Meanwhile, ambulance staff have decided to continue the agitation. “We had demanded a salary of Rs 12,000 earlier. Bu now we have come down to Rs 9,000. Still, neither the company nor the government is paying any heed to our legitimate demand. The government can’t threaten us by invoking ESMA. The strike will continue until our demands are fulfilled,” an agitating employee said.

“At least two of our demands should be fulfilled. Otherwise we will resign en masse”, he added.

Health minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said- “We have made alternate arrangements to ensure smooth emergency service. If anybody tries to hit the service, action will be taken against them. No compromise will be made in case of emergency service like health care”.

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