Health Minister urges workers of GVK EMRI to call off indefinite strike

Shillong, July 19: Health Minister AL Hek on Friday appealed to workers of the GVK EMRI to call off their indefinite strike, failing which, the government will take action as per provisions of the Meghalaya Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

This came a day after the field staff under the banner of the Meghalaya EMRI Workers Union (MEWU) decided to go for an indefinite strike as a mark of protest against the management body’s adamant attitude in fulfilling their charter of demands.

As per notification issued on March 1, the state government has promulgated the Meghalaya Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1980 (No. 23 of 1980) read with the Meghalaya Essential Services Maintenance (Amendment) Act, 2003, prohibiting all strikes by field staff of GVK EMRI.

Stating that there are allegations and counter allegations from the workers and management body, the health minister however assured that the government will take step to address all their grievances.

Hek assured that the government would examine the representations from both sides and would soon call them for a meeting to resolve all the issues.

Hek has directed the Health and Family Welfare Department to convene a meeting on July 22 with the EMRI management and striking workers.

“I appeal to all the workers to call off their strike otherwise it will attract the provisions of the Act which prohibit health workers from staging such protest,” Hek said.

Appealing to the striking workers of EMRI to immediately resume services, Hek said, “EMRI 108 services is an essential, emergency, life saving service which when disrupted, is causing immense hardship and difficulties for the poor, needy and sick patients who have no other means of urgent referral to nearest health facility in case of medical exigencies.”

The Minister assured that the State Government was exploring all options for finding early resolution.

Publicity secretary of the Union, Joseph Pyngrope had informed that the demands of the Union include 20 percent increment of the salary, sanctioning of manpower and local to local transfer of staffs.

“It is important to note that if a Khasi field staff is being transferred to Garo Hills, problem of communication will arise which will affect and put the patient lives at risk. Therefore, we are demanding that transfer should be based taking these things into consideration,” he had said.

The publicity secretary further informed that the deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong had earlier in a recent meeting asked the Union to go back and resolve the matter with the management body.

“However, when approached, the management instead of resolving the issues, was talking about service rules and this has led us to nowhere,” he said.

Meanwhile, the field staff staged a protest at Malki ground despite the decision of the deputy commissioner East Khasi Hills District not to grant them permission.