With at least four Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees succumbing to COVID-19 so far, employees from BHEL depot in Hyderabad launched a two-day hunger strike on Monday, demanding that the government convert the 250-bed TSRTC hospital in Tarnaka into an isolation ward and provide healthcare to the employees.
“Four of our colleagues lost their lives due to financial constraints and some who could not avail medical care on time. Presently, over 30 of them have tested positive for coronavirus. We want the government to treat us as frontline workers on par with the police and medical staff and ensure medical care for us,” said Raju, an employee who is on the hunger strike.
He added, “Our demand is very small. We have our own hospital. Please make that into a COVID-19 isolation ward for us for treatment. The RTC employees have a huge risk of getting exposed to the virus because of the nature of our work, so the government should consider our plight before many of us fall prey to this disease.”
Recently, Mohammed Nissar, a popular folk artiste and activist working with the TSRTC died due to COVID-19.
While both the Health Minister Eatala Rajender and Finance Minister Harish Rao expressed condolences on the demise of Nissar, the TSRTC employees union leaders questioned the government’s reluctance to open the RTC hospital in Tarnaka and convert it into an isolation ward.
“We have small kids at home. How can we endanger them? A huge hospital for our welfare has been built in Tarnaka already, we are not asking for a new hospital. All we want the government to do is to make it into an isolation ward,” Raji Reddy, a leader from TSRTC Employees Union said.
Meanwhile, Raju said that the protest would continue for two-days and yet if the government does not consider their basic demands, they would intensify their struggle.
Another TSRTC union leader said, “Akin to police personnel, RTC employees should be tested too. Already 30 people have been tested positive, but we don’t know how many of their contacts in the office were tested. We demand the government to prioritise our health and do the needful.”
On Sunday, 1,269 persons were tested positive for coronavirus, and eight of them died. The death toll in the state stands at 356. Out of the total 34,671 cases, the state presently has 11,883 active cases.