Govt rules out taking over 108 ambulance service

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: Meghalaya Government has made it clear that it cannot take over the 108 ambulance service as demanded by the agitating employees.
Talking to media persons here on Thursday, Health and Family Welfare Minister AL Hek said that taking over of the 108 ambulance service by the government is not possible.
“We are outsourcing our PHCs, CHCs and sub-centres to NGOs because we don’t have the manpower to run the services, so how can we take over the ambulance service?” Hek said. Reiterating that the government is not directly concerned with the employees of the service, he said that the government on its own had called for a meeting with the agitating employees recently.
“If both parties cannot come to an understanding, what else can we do,” he said. Informing that the government has already issued the pre-termination notice to the GVK EMRI, he added that the state government would have to take a call if the services are not resumed within 60 days.
The agitating staff are at loggerheads with the management over the non-fulfillment of the 36-point charter of demands which include salary increment, increasing the number of ambulances and others.
They had also asked the government to cancel the contract with the GVK EMRI and consider taking over the emergency services. In the ongoing standoff between the administration and the staff, it is the common man who has suffered the most as there are no 108 ambulances to operate as of now.

Groups condemn govt
Meanwhile, the Workers Power of Meghalaya (WPM) and Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) have condemned the government’s ‘adamant’ attitude and failure, particularly on the health minister’s part, in addressing the grievances of the EMRI union whose 180 plus members have been on an indefinite hunger strike.
In a statement issued here, the general secretary of WPM, Kenneth Swer and the TUR have said that it is indeed worrying that the government has not taken responsibility in trying to meet the legitimate demands of workers who have been crucial in providing the much needed emergency services in the state.
The EMRI union has for the last one year been using democratic means to make their grievances heard which includes demands to improve the services by revamping the ambulances and increasing staff strength for the benefit of the public at large, the statement said. 
“The GVK management has been indulging in many illegalities by not adhering to labour norms, starting with not paying workers the mandated minimum wages, overtime wages and others. However, the Labour department must also be held responsible for allowing private parties such as GVK to operate in the state by flaunting labour laws,” the statement said. 

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