Chandigarh, May 11
Punjab’s Health Department has ordered termination of services of around 1,000 protesting contractual employees working under the National Health Mission (NHM) for failing to return to their duties amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 9,000 contractual employees including paramedical staff working under the NHM Punjab had been on strike, seeking regularisation of their jobs and increase in salaries.
After an appeal by Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, around 8,000 protesting employees returned to their work.
In an order to all civil surgeons in the state on Monday, the Director of NHM, Punjab, directed that services of protesting employees be terminated with immediate effect and also ordered that voluntary staff be hired in place of them.
The action was taken under the Disaster Management Act.
Earlier, the health minister had appealed to the agitating employees to call off their strike and resume duties from Monday in the larger public interest.
Sidhu on Sunday had also warned of action against them under The Disaster Management Act if they did not pay heed to his appeal of joining their duties.
The strike by Community Health Officers (CHO), auxiliary nurse midwives and other employees had severely affected a ‘COVID Prevention Drive’ in rural areas of the state.
The week-long absence of CHOs and other staff at health and wellness centres has led to an increase in the positivity and death rates as they assign the duties of sampling and tracing of suspected patients of COVID-19.
NHM Employees association state president Inderjit Rana on Tuesday said the association has appealed to health authorities not to take action against the 1,000 employees and allow them to rejoin their duties. — PTI