Bangalore, August 6, 2013: Health Minister U T Khader held a high-level meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation arising out of the ongoing strike by the staff of the ‘108’ ambulance service. A total of 194 staffers of the Arogya Kavacha service had been suspended on Monday, in connection with the stir.
A 13-member group of the Karnataka State 108 Arogya Kavacha Workers’ Association and the management staff of the Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) took part in the meeting.
The 2,400 workers (paramedical staff and drivers) are on strike since July 26, pressing for job security and better pay. EMRI had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the State government to hire people for the service.
Association president R Sridhar said that he, along with other members, would meet the minister with regard to pay hike and other issues on Wednesday.
He, however, said that they would continue the strike till salaries are paid to the workers as per the MoU.
Call back suspended staff
Khader told EMRI to take back the suspended staff immediately, during the meeting.
“A review meeting will be held on August 14, wherein Arogya Kavacha members who have not received the pay can attend, along with the EMRI staff,” the minister said.
Jagadish Patil, head of operations, EMRI, told Deccan Herald, “We will take back the suspended staffers once they give us in writing that they won’t indulge in protests or other unlawful activities in future by 11 am on Tuesday. We are giving salaries as per the MoU. We even hike the salary of each worker every year in the range of 10 to 12 per cent. Hence, there is no question of lack of job security.”
HC seeks details
Meanwhile, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday directed the State government to furnish all records pertaining to payment of salaries to the drivers and nurses of Arogya Kavacha.
During the hearing of a petition filed by Dr Kodur Venkatesh, the government counsel told the court that the issue of wages was being referred to the Labour Court.
However, the Division Bench comprising justices K L Manjunath and Ravi Malimath sought to know the details. The counsel replied that the government had outsourced the services of drivers and nurses and the drivers were being paid Rs 7,000 a month.
“Are they not human beings? What is your BPL card ceiling. How much do you pay under MGNREGS. They are supposed to stay 12 hours in the vehicle. They have to eat outside.
“What is the price of milk today? Do you get vegetables at least for such a salary?” Justice Manjunath said. The Bench then adjourned the matter with a direction to the government to furnish details on Wednesday.