The Karnataka government on Friday, October 1, annonced that the employment of hospital staff who were appointed on a contract basis during the pandemic would be extended till December 31. This came after contract hospital workers from across the state protested in Bengaluru on September 22, demanding the government employ them as permanent staff. Their contract was set to expire on September 30, 2021.
During the protest, the workers showed TNM a circular where the government had said that their employment would come to an end on September 30. The workers spanned several professions including doctors, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, data entry operators and cleaning staff.
Although the extension has provided temporary relief, the workers are not very satisfied with the decision. “This measure does offer a temporary relief, but again, our condition will be pretty much the same in January 2022, when the extension is over,” said T Ramachandra, a lab technician from Chamarajanagar district. “We want this service to continue till the government makes fresh, permanent appointments, and that we are given priority,” he added.
Another lab technician named N Raghavendra from Bellary district’s Sandur, who was appointed in March 2020 for a period of six months, also said that the government’s decision is really a big relief. “Now that there is a threat of a third wave of COVID-19, the government has decided to extend the employment for another three months. But, this time, the extension is only for three months, unlike previous times when our term had been extended twice for six months. This shows that the government doesn't have any intention of giving us job security. If the third wave comes, maybe the employment will be extended, but if it doesn't, they will just throw us away,” he said.
Mahesh Nadagowda, the president of Karnataka Samyukta Arogya Ilakhe Guttige Noukarara Sangha (hospital contract workers union), welcomed the extension but also demanded that the state government take measures to provide job security to the contract workers. He alleged that all the workers, who had been appointed currently, were eligible for the job, “because the appointments were given as per rules and merit and were appointed to posts that were already vacant.”
He alleged, “All these workers who have been appointed now have been taken on a roster and merit basis. This means that the workers had been appointed based on the caste wise reservation quotas and also on merit.”
“The government has taken the contract workers for the existing vacancies, which means their employment is necessary for the health department. Additionally, these workers have been appointed as per rules,” he added.