Imphal: Denouncing the sudden termination order, Covid contractual staff on Monday staged a protest at Lamboikhongnangkhong Covid Care Centre. The protesters mobilised by All Manipur Covid Warrior Association held placards which read “We condemn immediate termination”, “Recognise the dedication of contractual staff during Covid pandemic”, “Is termination a gift for dedication by Covid warriors”, “We condemn inhumane act of government” etc.
All Manipur Covid Warrior Association Joint Secretary Sila told reporters that at a crucial time when the lives of the people were put at risk by the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic, the Health Department recruited many contractual staff including doctors, nurses, MTS and drivers to fight the fast spreading Covid-19.
She said that when the people daren’t to go out of their home for fear of Covid, the courageous Covid contractual staff came out in the frontline to fight the deadly virus and could save many precious lives of the patients in hospitals and CCCs.
Recounting the hardship days, she said that Covid contractual staff faced social stigma as local people and even their family members denied entry to Covid warriors in the locality and home as they felt that the Covid staff would bring and spread coronavirus in their locality.
As such, many Covid warriors were compelled to stay in rented houses. Defying the fear of Covid and social stigma, the contractual staff fought Covid-19 in the frontline to save the people. This is the tragic experience the Covid contractual staff had to endure, she recalled.
She said that when the people and the government were reeling under the hardship of Covid pandemic, the government and the people lauded the service and dedication of the Covid contractual staff as ‘Heroes’.
The State is now witnessing a significant improvement in Covid situation. In view of the significant improvement with daily low positivity rate, the government has terminated the service of the Covid contractual staff without giving prior information to the staff. The “back dated” termination order issued by the Deputy Secretary (Health), Government of Manipur on March 16 has utterly hurt the sentiment of the contractual staff who put their life at risk during Covid pandemic, she lamented.
Sila questioned if ‘service termination’ is the gratitude and reward of the government shown to the contractual staff who have been fighting Covid in the frontline for two years.
The ‘use and throw” policy of the government is quite inhumane. At least, the government, being a parent, is bound to consider the future of the contractual staff who are also maintaining their poor families. Termination of the staff from service even without clearing their remuneration for four/five months is also quite inhumane and unjustified on the part of the government, she said.
Reminding that the Health Department in an order issued in May 2021 had assured that Covid contract staff on Covid ward duty would be provided incentive (Rs. 500 for Doctors, Rs.400 for Nurses and Rs.150 for MTS per day), she regretted that the order has turned out to be a betrayal as the staff are yet to get the incentive as promised by the government.
Throwing out the contractual staff after having utilised their resources is quite unsympathetic and inhumane. It is unjustified to treat the staff as ‘chewing gums’, she said.
She demanded that the termination order should be revoked and the government should make an alternative arrangement for the terminated staff. If an alternative arrangement is not made, the staff will go ahead with intensified stir, she warned.
Pointing out that the government conducted recruitment for Kyamgei Hospital without giving any opportunity to the already recruited contractual staff, she cautioned that the government should not declare the interview results. Instead of recruiting fresh staff, the already recruited Covid contractual staff could be used, she added.
She appealed to the government to show fitting gratitude to the Covid staff by protecting their service career.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive asking the States to give priority to Covid warriors who have signed up 100 days Covid duty in regularisation of service, recruitment etc, she appealed to the State Government to honour the directive of the Prime Minister.