Action against 108 ambulance staff if they continue strike: Govt

Bhubaneswar: Director of National Health Mission (NHM), Odisha Shalini Pandit on Saturday said punitive action will be taken against the striking staff of the 108 emergency ambulance services who have not joined their duty despite repeated requests made by the State government.

Talking to media persons here, Pandit said, “As the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) is in force, we will take action as per the situation. If striking staff of the ambulance services rejoin work, no action will be taken. However, those who do not pay heed to the government call, we will definitely act as per the law against them.”

“In Bolangir, Bhadrak and Sundargarh districts, some employees of the 108 ambulance services have been detained as they continued their strike,” she said.

Pandit added collectors of the districts have been asked to make proper arrangements so that the 108 ambulance services are not affected due to the stir.

“We have discussed the issues of the staff of the ambulance services at the Labour Commissioner’s office. Ziqitza Health Care Limited, the employer of the striking workers, has agreed to increase salary percentage of the staff to 12% from the present 8%. The company has also agreed to pay annual increment and food allowance to the workers. Regarding over time payment issue, the discussion is on,” the NHM Director said.

“Matters which could not be sorted out have been referred to the Industrial Tribunal for a final decision. Therefore, the State government had requested the 108 ambulance staff not to strike work and discuss the issues,” she added.

Pandit said two months back, employees of Ziqitza Health Care had presented a seven-point charter of demands including pay hike and over time and food allowance before the government.

Notably, the 108 emergency ambulance service is running in all districts of the State by Ziqitza Health Care. The drivers, helpers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are hired by the private agency.