108 workers protest across Andhra Pradesh

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: Demanding that their long-pending demands be solved, members of the Andhra Pradesh 108 Services Contract Employees Union, which is affiliated to the CITU, launched a State-wide protest from Monday night by boycotting their duties.

On Tuesday, they staged protests in front of the Collector office buildings across the State, honing black badges. As a result of the strike, emergency services were affected partially in several cities such as Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Rajamahendravaram and Tirupati. To avoid inconvenience to the public, Principal Secretary (Health) KS Jawahar Reddy urged the leaders of the Union to postpone their strike till July 31. However, the leaders made it clear that they will not withdraw their strike until and unless they were given an appointment with Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Speaking to TNIE, the Employees Union president B Kiran Kumar said that despite working 24/7 for the past thirteen years without any benefits, the State government did not recognise the services of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and emergency ambulance drivers (pilot). Moreover, the employees faced financial problems whenever there was a change in the agency maintaining the 108 services. For instance, the agency, GVK EMRI, which maintained the services earlier has failed to clear the dues to the tune of Rs 30,000-40,000 for each employee.

“We should get at least Rs 1 lakh for each employee that includes Rs 35,000 from Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) and Rs 24,000 from the government. Despite several representations made to the former Principal Secretary (Health) Poonam Malakondaiah and Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare and even to Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani), there has been no response from them. With no other option left, we have hit the streets to get our demands implemented for our livelihood,” Kiran Kumar said.

When asked about their future course of action, he said that they will call their strike off only after they were invited for talks by the Chief Minister.

He also maintained that they will not halt the emergency services if the organising agency hired private persons for the purpose. In all, 2,200 employees that include EMTs and pilots are participating in the strike and 439 ambulances stayed away from the roads.

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