The Tamil Nadu 108 Ambulance Workers’ Union has threatened to go on a day’s strike, if the government failed to meet its demands, which include pay revision and overtime payment.
Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, T. Siva Kumar, State organising secretary, said the working hours for employees were beyond the stipulated eight hours and the management did not consider their fair demands, despite repeated representation in the last six months. The workers’ demands range from salary revision to payment of bonus, dearness allowance and overtime wages.
The government launched the ‘108’ ambulance service as a public-private venture to reach out to the needy in medical emergencies.
Today, there are over 650 ambulances operating with over 3,000 employees in all districts. Call centres of 108 in Tamil Nadu receive an average of about 20,000 emergency calls a day.
Most drivers worked under a lot of stress, which might be risky for them as well as the accident victims, Mr. Kumar said. “When we took up the issue with senior officials, no positive step was taken.”
“Our salaries are not fixed on a par with government ambulance drivers. We get only around Rs.6000 to Rs.8000 and employees do not have proper shelter or toilet facilities.
Many vehicles operating in remote areas are not maintained properly,” he charged.
A meeting between workers’ representatives and government authorities is scheduled for January 3.
“If the officials accept our demands, we will give up our strike plan. Otherwise, we will go ahead with our plan on January 8,” he said.