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Karnataka contract health workers withdraw strike following minister’s assurance

Following the assurance of the Minister of Health and Medical Education, K. Sudhakar, that their applications will be considered soon, the contracted and outsourced health workers appointed under the National Health Mission (NHM) have withdrawn their strike on Thursday evening.

Demanding job security and equal pay for equal work, thousands of contract workers under the banner of Karnataka State Department of Health and Medical Education’s Association of Contract and External Employees (KSHCOEA) held a one-day protest at Freedom Park on Thursday.

Dr Sudhakar, who met them at the venue of the protest, said the government would soon revise their pay by 15% as recommended by the PN Srinivasachari committee. Calling on the workers to withdraw their strike, he said the government would take action to meet their other demands, including health insurance coverage.

The department has approximately 30,000 contract staff appointed under the NHM. The staff includes auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM), auxiliary nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians and pharmacists. Along with job security and equal pay for equal work, these workers are calling for health insurance, easy reimbursement of medical expenses, and weighting of services in future recruitments.

“Contractual workers demand that their salary be equivalent to that of permanent employees. The Union and State governments jointly supported 49 health programs for a given period and workers were appointed under contract for these programs. It is therefore difficult to regularize their services. However, I assure them that every effort will be made to increase their salaries,” the minister said.

KSHCOEA Chairman Vishwaradhya HY said their Honorary Chairman Ayanur Manjunath convinced them that he would raise their issue in the next legislative session and also discuss the matter with Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai. “Following this, we have temporarily withdrawn our strike. We will resume work if our demands are not met at the earliest,” he added.

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