Emergency 108 healthcare workers, under the banner of the Meghalaya Emergency Management and Research Institute Workers’ Union (MEMRIU), carried out a rally today from the 108 main office to Students Field in Jaiaw to demand that the state government take over the running of the ambulance service from GVK EMRI.
The union has also threatened to intensify its agitation if the government fails to respond.
“In the last meeting convened between us, the state government, and the GVK EMRI management after more than a year of agitation, they said let us work as a family. We compromised on most of our demands and called off all the protests and strikes and resumed our duties but harassment against us by the management continues to date, so how can we work as a family?” MEMRIWU Adviser, Susan Lyngdoh, told Highland Post.
During the most restrictive phase of the Covid-19 lockdown last year, EMRI field workers had their salaries deducted even though they faced difficulty in coming to work due to a lack of public transportation, she said.
“Some of our workers have to go up to Garo Hills from places like Patharkhmah and Jaiñtia Hills bearing their own expenses during the lockdown, when movement from one district to another was restricted and there were very limited transportation facilities,” she added. “One of the workers drew a salary of Rs 1,100 only from a monthly salary of approximately Rs 8,000-9,000 because the management deducted everything, including leave entitlement because she failed to attend duty during the lockdown in the absence of transportation.”
Informing that the emergency field workers do not receive traveling and dearness allowances, she said that some workers had expenses of around Rs 5,000 a month for travelling and other reasons. That left them with take home pay of only Rs 3,000 which is “pure injustice” and not enough to support a family.
“Whenever we would inquire about the annual increment we are supposed to get, the management would simply tell us that there are no funds,” Lyngdoh said, adding that lack of funds is a management problem and the workers, who risk everything in the performance of their duties, should not have to suffer.
She lamented that the staff have given the management enough chances to address the plight of the emergency field workers but to no avail. She also said that compared to other states, there are too few emergency workers in Meghalaya, where numbers are actually decreasing with time.