Decision to terminate the services of 194 employees likely to be reversed

After a heated discussion and a late night meeting on Tuesday, Health Minister U.T. Khader has said that GVK EMRI, the private agency running the 108 ambulance service along with the government, was likely to withdraw the decision to terminate the services of 194 employees who have been striking work since July 26.

Earlier in the day, as the strike called by the Karnataka State Arogya Kavacha (108) Ambulance Employees' Sangha entered the 12th day, Mr. Khader, for the first time, paid a visit to the striking drivers and the nurses at Freedom Park, where they have been camping.

His visit and assurances came on the day the High Court asked the government to resolve the issue of salary raised by the drivers and nurses and asked the State to submit details of remuneration paid to them.

The Minister said that a meeting would be convened on August 14 with the members of the union, officials of the health department and GVK EMRI to look into the issues raised by them. “However, we hope to reach an amicable settlement on Wednesday.”

Expressing helplessness over the employees’ demand to terminate their contract with GVK EMRI, Mr. Khader said that the government was bound by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the company. Ruling out regularisation of services, he said, “We have thousands of nurses and staff working at our hospitals. Several people who have been serving the department for two or three decades and are close to retirement have not been made permanent.”

However, Mr. Khader said that the government would stand by the drivers and nurses if the private agency violated any of the terms and conditions.

During the late night meeting with the officer-bearers of the union, he promised to look into violations with regard to the MoU.

R. Sridhar, president of the sangha, said that their strike would continue till the government gave them a written assurance.

“We are glad that the government has finally acknowledged our presence. But we will continue with our strike until we reach a negotiation.”

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