Protesters outside the district collectorate on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Hygiene at state-owned MGM Medical College and Hospital may soon take a massive hit with cleaning staff threatening an indefinite strike to protest against the delay in regularisation of jobs.
Some 55 sanitation workers staged a demonstration outside the district collectorate on Wednesday. The hired force, which gets paid daily by city-based agency Advanced Business Corporation, issued a 15-day ultimatum to the hospital authorities and the administration to honour their demand.
JMM leader Shyamal Ranjan Sarkar, spearheading the agitation, said the insecurity of cleaners stemmed from reports that the government was planning to fill nearly 9,000 vacancies in the health department.
“These people have been working at MGM hospital for nearly 12 years. During this period, they have been employed by different private agencies to keep the hospital premises clean. But, instead of regularising them, the government is planning to fill vacancies with full-time staff. We see this decision as an attempt to deprive these people of their benefits,” said Sarkar.
The JMM leader claimed to have put forth the demand before East Singhbhum deputy commissioner on August 17. However no response from the district administration or the state health department has compelled them to walk on protest path, he said.
“It has been nine months since we put our demand before the district administration. Owing to contractual nature of their jobs, cleaners are deprived of basic employment benefits. The government has announced that it will fill up vacancies in the health department across the state. They should have taken these people into account,” Sarkar added.
The protesters have also decided to put their demand before health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh during his scheduled visit to Jamshedpur on Friday.
“If the minister fails to give any concrete assurance, we will have no option but to paralyse the hospital’s cleanliness after a fortnight,” the JMM leader said.
MGM superintendent S.K. Chowdhury said the matter was not in their hands as the cleaners were employed by an outsourced agency.
“They work under a private firm and we cannot interfere in their business. We are concerned with the cleaning of the hospital and directly deal with the agency. I cannot comment on the agitation threat. We will hold the agency responsible if cleanliness suffers,” he added.