Shillong, Nov 7: Workers Power of Meghalaya (WPM) and Thma U Rangli (TUR) on Thursday condemned the adamant attitude and failure of the state government particularly Health Minister, A L Hek in addressing the grievances of the GVK EMRI workers.
The employees have been on an indefinite hunger strike for the last 10 days since October 29.
In a statement, the two organizations said it is worrying that the government has abdicated all responsibility in trying to meet the legitimate demands of workers who have been crucial in providing the much needed emergency services in the state.
Reminding the government that the GVK EMRI is but just a private entity, they said, “The government has every right and indeed it is its bounded duty to protect the workers. GVK is indulging in many illegalities and is in breach by not adhering to labour norms starting with not paying workers the mandated minimum wages, overtime wages, etc.”
“In fact the EMRI union has for the last one year been using democratic means to make their grievances heard which includes demands to improve the services by revamping the ambulances and increasing staff strength for the benefit of the public at large. The union had participated in a conciliation meeting initiated by the labour dept and two high level committee meetings chaired by the addl. Chief secretary and respective secretary health,” they said.
Stating that the government cannot allow GVK EMRI to disrespect these processes, the two organizations said that it is the government’s duty to bind participating parties to tripartite negotiations and agreements and “cannot allow GVK to simply disrespect and walk away from commitments made. Further it is the duty of the government to implement the minimum wages act, regulate working hours etc and it should just pass an order instructing GVK to adhere by the laws.”
They also asserted that the labour department must also be held responsible for allowing private parties such as GVK to operate in the state by flaunting labour laws.
Meanwhile, the TUR and Workers Power of Meghalaya also urged the government to proactively intervene to break the impasse and to hold GVK accountable and ensure that the workers demands are met.
Referring to the press release by GVK that they will recruit new people, WPM and TUR cautions persons who may be lured by GVK for jobs as they are most likely to be exploited in a similar manner as the present workers who have been forced by GVK mismanagement to be on a hunger strike for the past 10 days now.
“By not exercising its legal right to protect workers’ rights and allowing itself to be held to ransom by a private entity, the government is putting all the citizens at risk. We (TUR and WPM) take exception to this, and will mobilize workers to stand in solidarity with the EMRI union,” the statement added.