Emergency workers under the banner of the Meghalaya EMRI Workers’ Union (MEMRIWU) have decided to resume their protest on the non-realisation of their long-pending demands by the GVK EMRI management.
Speaking to Highland Post today, MEMRIWU Publicity Secretary, Joseph Pyngrope, said, “We have decided to start our indefinite protest again from tomorrow midnight by putting up black flags before we decide on other forms of agitation.”
The main demands include the hiring of more manpower, increased salary and provision for leave.
With only 200 field staff across the state, the EMRI staff are having to put in more than eight hours of work a day, which is in contravention of the Labour Act, Pyngrope said. The shortage of staff has had a negative effect on the workers’ ability to take leave as well.
And while healthcare workers under contract during the Covid-19 pandemic can earn at least Rs 25,000 per month, EMRI workers, who are not regularised either, are taking home only Rs 12,000 a month, which, Pyngrope said is “purely meaningless.”
“We also want the state government to handle this project on its own and not to [outsource] it to companies whose main motive is only profit, which is a great drawback to the service of the public,” he said.
The coming of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a further burden, with the EMRI workers unable to undergo quarantine when put at risk because of the shortage of staff.
Other issues in the service, according to MEMRIWU, include a shortfall in ambulances, with only 43 operating in Meghalaya. This causes the emergency service to miss out on some of the 70 to 100 emergency cases every day.
There are also not enough staff at the call centre, with only one emergency response officer on call to attend to the scores of emergency calls received daily.