Contractual COVID-19 healthcare workers intensified their agitation demanding service extension on Thursday.
Joined by multitasking staff and nurses from other districts of the state, the COVID-19 healthcare workers stormed the office of the Manipur Health directorate in Imphal’s Lamphelpat. They were, however, pushed back by the police who rushed to the spot where the contractual staff remained protesting inside the directorate premises with placards in their hands. The police then allowed them to continue their protest on the side of the road near the gate main entrance gate of RIMS hospital.
“Remember the service rendered by us facing all odds,” one of the slogans read.
“We disagree with the termination from our services,” said one of the healthcare workers hailing from Ukhrul who came all the way to take part in the protest in Imphal. She alleged that the state Health department has terminated some of their colleagues despite their strong demand for extension of the service. She then demanded disbursement of their pending salaries for four months, saying that they were not paid for the last four consecutive months.
The multitasking staff and nurses were appointed by the state government on contract basis to meet the shortage of healthcare staff while dealing with COVID-19 patients in August last year. At first, they were first engaged for three months, that is, till November 2020. However, their services were extended till January, 2021.
Demanding extension of their services, the contractual staff were protesting for the last around one week. On Tuesday last they tried to storm the chief minister’s secretariat but were foiled by the police. Furthering their protest, they gathered at the office of the health directorate at Lamphelpat and tried to storm the office on Wednesday evening.
Today, contractual staff from other districts also took part in the protest.
Talking to reporters, the protesters alleged that during the peak of COVID-19 transmission in the state, they risked their lives to save others and were praised by the state as frontline Covid warriors. They added that opting to cancel the contract with them by forgetting their contributions in fighting the pandemic was disappointing.