HDF workers fighting Covid-19 either without wages or for Rs 1500 a month

ESS AHMAD. Dated: 4/7/2020 11:55:37 PM

Medical College Anantnag

ANANTNAG, Apr 7: Central government might have announced insurance scheme for front line health workers fighting Covid-19, dozens of health workers working on hospital development fund (HDF) at government medical college Anantnag are fighting the deadly virus either without salaries or for Rs 1500.
At least 60 health workers engaged in 2015 on hospital development fund remain unpaid since January even as all of them are performing their duties at Covid-19 OPD according to the roaster.
Though over hundred persons had been engaged against HDF in the hospital when it was under the control of directorate health services from time to time, around 55 of them were later cleared by the government by virtue of many orders. According to some officials, government in 2017 issued an order stating that those engaged after February 2015 won't be cleared for regularisation. However till December 2019 these remaining HDF employees continued to perform their duties and get their meagre wages. But from January 2020 all these health workers are without wages with authorities asking them to vacate.
Scores of these aggrieved health workers who spoke to Kashmir Times complained that they are being traumatized by the authorities concerned.
"Since January we have not been paid a single penny. We had even been removed from the duty roaster after December 2019. But when the threat of Corona virus loomed large and a separate Covid-19 OPD was set up at the medical college we were again included in the roaster and are being made to perform duties at flu clinic," a group of these aggrieved health workers told Kashmir Times.
As per the roaster, at least four of these health workers are performing duty at Covid-19 OPD every day.
"Like other doctors and Para-medics we too are on the forefront to handle the suspected cases of Covid-19 but we fail to understand why we are treated like children of lesser god. For rest of the health workers centre has even announced some insurance scheme but we are fighting the deadly virus without wages," one such HDF health worker told Kashmir Times.
Besides the non-payment of wages, what agonizes these health workers is that authorities supposed to address their grievances are not ready to listen to them.
"The authorities concerned are telling us that government had issued an order that no HDF employee engaged after 2015 has to be entertained. We are telling them to show us the order which they don’t. We many a time tried to approach them but they did not give a damn about us. They are even ready to listen to us," said another HDF worker.
The story does not end with these uncleared HDF health workers. Even those HDF workers whose cases have been cleared by the authorities too are made to fight the pandemic for 1500 to 200 rupees.
As per the norms, an HDF worker said, they are supposed to be paid 200 rupees a day. "But irony is that we are being made to work for 1500 to 2000 rupees a month. We too have our families to feed but people at helm don't realize this. Is not it injustice to make a health worker fight the deadly virus either for 1500 rupees or without being paid a penny. If some of us get infected in line of duty, who will take care of our families," a group of these HDF workers rued.
Principal, GMC, Anantnag , Dr Showkat Jeelani said that these people have been engaged years ago before the conversion of the hospital into medical college.
"I have neither engaged nor asked anyone to vaccate. But I have come to know that government in 2017 had issued an order clearly mentioning that those engaged after 2015 won't be cleared," Principal said.
In the order, Principal said, government had asked the concerned officers not to release their wages but unfortunately they had been allowed to work and paid even after the order had been issued.
Asked why they are being made to perform duty at Covid-19 OPD despite not being paid for last several months, Principal said that he will check it out.
"If their wages have been stopped and are made to perform Covid-19 related duties this is absolutely wrong. I will check it out tomorrow. But one thing I am again telling you I have not asked anyone to vacate," Principal said.
Director, Health Services, Kashmir Dr Sameer Matoo did not respond to the repeated calls from this correspondent.



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