UP ambulance staff gets salaries, waits for masks

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Lucknow, April 1 (IANS) After the association of ambulance employees in some districts announced a flash strike on Tuesday over non-payment of salaries for two months and lack of protective gear in the coronavirus pandemic, they were promptly paid their wages for February and assured that the salary for March would be disbursed soon.

The 102 and 108 emergency ambulance services in Uttar Pradesh are managed and operated by a private company — GVK — under contract with the state government.

There are about 4,500 such ambulances deployed across the state, according to the Ambulance Employees’ Association.

The association says 17,000 workers — drivers and emergency technicians — are posted to these ambulances. These employees are on contract with the private firm.

“We do not have sanitisers, gloves or proper masks. We have not received salaries for two months. When we go to fill oxygen, people do not allow us in because we are not wearing masks. We told the concerned officials to arrange better supplies but got no response. Our vehicles have not been sanitised either,” said Bhupendra Singh, president of the association.

The ambulance association claims the Uttar Pradesh government has told them to negotiate salary issues directly with the private company, saying the state government cannot provide help in this matter.

Around 86 ambulance drivers associated with 102 and 108 and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) staff went on strike Tuesday though the six ambulances associated with COVID-19 surveillance were operational throughout the day.

District president of the Ambulance Employees Union Ashish Mishra said that majority of ambulance drivers and EMT staff have no protection kit like sanitizer, gloves and masks in view of the deadly COVID-19 virus outbreak.

He also added that PF amount has not been deposited to their accounts for the past eight months and salaries of the past two months were also not paid.

In Lakhimpur, a 45-year-old man succumbed to his injuries sustained in a brawl because he could not get medical attention as 108 and 102 ambulance services also proceeded on strike.

Though the GVK officials could not be contacted, Uttar Pradesh medical health officials took up the matter with them on Tuesday night and ensured that salaries were paid to the agitating employees.

A senior medical official told IANS on Wednesday morning that, “Our priority was to keep the ambulance services going in this crisis. We have asked the service providers to solve the issues at the earliest. The ambulance employees’ association has also agreed not to disrupt services. We will also ensure that they get adequate protection with masks and sanitisers.”



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