Disagreement between the State and Central governments over fixing wages for the contract workers under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme has led to workers having to repay part of the salary they have received over the years.

Some of the workers are required to repay as much as Rs. 40,000 to compensate for the “excess” amount they have received as salary over the years. The situation has arisen since the sanctioned increase (by the State government) falls much short of the amount the contract workers have been receiving as annual increments (5 per cent) since 2005.

Representatives of the co-ordination committee of medical officers and RNTCP staff say that they had been receiving a 5 per cent increase over the past four years. According to what was documented at the Executive Committee meeting of the State Health Society, Tamil Nadu on March 26, “Since the last revision under RNTCP was made in October 2005, 15 per cent increase of this pay giving effect of 5 per cent every year for the last three years and the revision will be effective from June 1, 09.”

The Centre has however revised the salary to 60 per cent of the basic pay. The State government continues to stick by the 15 per cent announced already. One of the Senior Treatment Supervisors from Krishnagiri said, in this situation, some contract workers are in a position to actually return some money to the government. Where a salary of Rs. 7500 (October 2005) has been raised to Rs. 12,000 (for the STS category) the State EC has pegged it at Rs. 8625 now. Thanks to the 5 per cent increase every year, the contract workers are currently drawing more than this. Speaking to The Hindu, Principal Secretary, Health, V.K.Subburaj, said, the problem was that there were a large number of contract workers in the Health Department across various disciplines. All of them had been promised the 15 per cent hike and it would create differences of pay across the same category if the RNTCP workers alone received the Centre-fixed salary. “However, they have made a representation to us and we are considering it,” he added.