KOCHI: Even as the daily caseload of COVID-19 has crossed 7000 mark in Kerala with spiralling virus transmission graph, the government doctors in the state are all set to launch open agitation. The protest is against the state government’s decision to continue withholding the salary of government employees including those in healthcare sectors for six more months.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in the government sector who have been relentlessly fighting against COVID-19 are disheartened by the decision to continue deferment of salary.
Healthcare workers are forced to work for extended hours with limited resources in the fight against the pandemic for more than six months. While healthcare workers are given additional benefits in other parts of the world during the pandemic, the Kerala government has cut even their salary, alleged the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association.
“We will be forced to intensify protest if the government is not taking a compassionate approach to our demands. All healthcare employees should be exempted from salary cut and they will be given the salary withhold during the last six months. Considering the shortage of staff at COVID-19 care centres and first-line treatment centres, more doctors and healthcare staff should be appointed immediately,” said Dr. Joseph Chacko, state president of KGMOA.
“In addition to the duty hours, the doctors have to attend several online meetings and review sessions every day. Now, we will not be attending any such meetings after the duty time,” he added.
Other demands of the doctors’ association include reinstating leave surrender facility for health workers who have been working without even availing holidays in last nine months, introducing 20 per cent risk allowance, announced for National Health Mission staff, to all health workers who are engaged in COVID-19 duty and ensuring the quality and enough quantity of PPE kits and N-95 masks.
As the number of healthcare workers infected is rapidly increasing, the government should conduct an internal auditing of the virus transmission among medical fraternity, demanded the KGMOA.
The Association state committee members will conduct hunger strike in front of the state secretariat on October 2 and if the demands are not met, doctors will launch non-cooperation stir without affecting COVID-19 activities, added the state president.
The state Cabinet has recently decided to defer the salary of government employees for six more months from September 1 onwards. The withhold salary will be later dissolved into the PF account of employees.
Meanwhile, the number of fresh cases per day in the state has crossed 7000. Malappuram tops the list with 1040 new cases on Tuesday followed by the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram where 935 fresh cases were reported on Tuesday.