Mangaluru, Jan 17, 2016: Members of 108 Ambulance Staff Federation warned that they will go on indefinite strike from January 24 if the government does not consider their grievance. While there are about 715 ambulances in the state, a total of 3,500 staff including drivers and medical technicians work under GVK EMRI, the agency that runs the service. The main demand of the ambulance staff is that all dues related to salary hike should be released immediately.
Dakshina Kannada District 108 Ambulance Drivers Federation secretary T J Wilson stated that though their salary was revised in April 2015, it has not been implemented. "Members made several requests for the release of salary arrears and waited till December. Finally, we decided to commence an indefinite protest. We have requested the government to fulfill our demands before January 23. If our demands are not fulfilled, then we will be forced to go on indefinite strike from January 24," Wilson said.
On duty hours, he said that 108 ambulance staff are forced to work nearly 12 hours a day. "Though the duty hours should be eight hours as per rule, we are working for nearly 12 hours a day only to see that the emergency service is not affected. Our aim is that people should not suffer due to lack of ambulance and at the same time, the government should consider the welfare of workers too," he said and demanded that overtime allowance should be made available to staff. "At present, only a single day overtime allowance is given if drivers and medical staff work on public holidays," Wilson said.
According to health and family welfare minister U T Khader, the government has approved a proposal submitted by the GVK EMRI with regard to the payment hike for additional working hours. "We will not give opportunity for 108 staff to go on strike. We will do all the needful to solve their problems and will ensure that the service of 108 is intact. The government will make alternative arrangements to ensure uninterrupted service if they commence strike."