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Blood short days ahead

Employees demonstrate outside the blood bank of Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 23: Contractual employees at the blood bank of Capital Hospital have raised a war cry.

They have threatened to go on strike if their demand for a hike in their remuneration and confirmation as permanent employees is not met. The possibility of a strike has left relatives of patients who need blood worried.

The employees made their intention clear when on Friday they sat on a protest seeking the attention of the authorities.

Santosh Sahu, brother of a thalassemia patient who comes every month to the blood bank, said people like him would be most affected if these employees went on strike. “Despite all odds I collect blood for my brother. The authorities should think about these employees,” Sahu said.

Hospital sources said the strike would cause patients in the city and its outskirts great trouble, as people here depend on this blood bank. This Red Cross-run blood bank has already been affected by shortage of staff and defunct machinery.

A blood component separation unit has been out of order for more than three months, and a medically-equipped bus has been lying unused ever since it was inaugurated two years ago, because it lacks a driver and other staff.

Thirteen contractual and non-muster roll employees today sat on a protest in front of the blood bank and said they would continue their demonstration for some more days before going on strike.

“We do not want patients to suffer. That’s why we are staging a protest to give the authorities a warning. If our demands are not fulfilled, we will intensify our protest,” said Bibhutendu Mohapatra, a contractual technician.

At present, the state blood bank here has just three permanent employees — a medical officer, a technician and a staff nurse — besides two employees appointed by the state AIDS Cell. The contractual employees were appointed by the managing committee, consisting of the district collector, chief medical officer, blood bank officer and eight other members, including the police commissioner.

“While these five employees get good salaries and remuneration, there is no hike for us. No one listens to us,” said another technician, Bishnupriya Prusti.

The contractual technicians get Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 per month as remuneration and attendants get around Rs 4,000, which is much lower than their government counterparts. Chief medical officer of Capital Hospital Sudarshan Dash, who is also the vice-chairman of the managing committee, said they were looking into the demands of the employees. “We will take a decision on this matter shortly,” said Dash.