Chandigarh: Health services hit as contractual staff on indefinite strike at PGI - Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh: Health services hit as contractual staff on indefinite strike at PGI

Apr 03, 2024 05:09 PM IST

Day after nine colleagues were arrested from protest site, nearly 3,500 workers strike work demanding their release; emergency, OPD services worst hit

Emergency and OPD services were hit at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, on Wednesday as an estimated 3,500 contractual workers, including hospital attendants, clerical staff, sanitation and kitchen staff, lift operators and security guards, went on an indefinite strike demanding the release of nine of their colleagues from police custody.

Contractual workers, including hospital attendants, clerical staff, sanitation and kitchen staff, lift operators and security guards, went on an indefinite strike at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, on Wednesday, demanding the release of nine of their colleagues from police custody. (HT Photo)
Contractual workers, including hospital attendants, clerical staff, sanitation and kitchen staff, lift operators and security guards, went on an indefinite strike at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, on Wednesday, demanding the release of nine of their colleagues from police custody. (HT Photo)

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Patient care services were affected at the region’s premier tertiary care hospital, including the emergency ward. Resident doctors had a tough time in the absence of support staff and were seen bringing bandages and other material themselves. Work at the outpatient department that sees a daily footfall of 12,000 patients was hit, too.

Devraj Singh, the general secretary of the Joint Action Committee that called the strike, said: “Our primary demand is the release of nine colleagues put behind bars in Chandigarh’s Burail Jail. Our demands for regularisation of services and salary hike, which was promised by PGI director Dr Vivek Lal in January, should be implemented. We will persist with the strike until our demands are addressed.”

The nine contractual workers were arrested on Tuesday when they were demonstrating at the designated protest site in Sector 25.

Defying the Punjab and Haryana high court orders that unions must adhere to previous directives to ensure the smooth operation of the institute, the workers gathered at the park in front of the Advanced Trauma Centre in large numbers and raised slogans against the administration.

When contacted, PGI deputy director Pankaj Rai said, “Our priority is to ensure that patient services remain unaffected. We are making every effort to ensure that our regular staff continues their work efficiently.”

The administration requested the service provider to arrange replacements of contract workers on strike for the hospital’s smooth operation. However, the situation took a turn for the worse when a manager of the service provider was observed filling out forms for new hires on the premises, leading to arguments. Police had to intervene and instructed the manager to refrain from conducting hiring activities on the PGI premises.

Kamlesh Kaur, 55, a resident of Jalandhar who had arrived for arthritis treatment, had to leave without consulting a doctor. “I can’t stand for long, and there were queues everywhere. Someone informed me about the strike, and I was told that obtaining my registration card would take even longer so I’ve decided to return home,” she said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Robert Abraham is a staff correspondent with the Hindustan Times in Chandigarh. He keeps readers updated on the latest developments in the world of health.

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