The Karnataka government on Monday issued a notification prohibiting strikes, non-cooperation, disobeying or refusal of work related to health services in the state. The notification signed by Karnataka Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar said that it was issued in the interest of public health
"...as Chairman of the State Executive Committee, I hereby prohibit strikes, non-cooperation, disobeying or refusal to work related to health services; non-submission of reports, non-compliance to the orders issued by the higher authorities by any public servant, health personnel..." Noting that the state government has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, the order said. "Disobeying or refusal of the work... will amount to contravention of the provisions of the said Acts, Rules or Orders," the order said.
Karnataka has witnessed multiple strikes out by doctors, paramedics and health workers on government jobs or hired on contractual basis, though treatment of patients never completely stopped.
Contract health workers in Karnataka held a protest last week asking for pay parity. This came after a strike by ASHA workers in Karnataka which was mediated by Health Minister B Sriramulu with the promise of increasing the monthly wages to Rs 12000. National Health Mission (NHM) staff have also held a strike in the state in the past month.
The decision also comes at a time Karnataka is reporting over 10,000 COVID-19 cases on a daily basis. The state is currently grappling with 1,15,574 active COVID-19 cases.
The capital city of Bengaluru is also regularly reporting over 4000 COVID-19 cases in a day
Recently in mid-September, even medical officers and other officials had held strikes for a few days, which led to underreporting of daily number of cases, recoveries and COVID-19 deaths. The Karnataka Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) was demanding that they be paid on par with the Union government health scheme.