Around 45 men and women working at the Government Kilpauk Hospital for the past decade as contract labourers are worried that they may not hold their jobs for very long.

The workers, employed as ‘ayahs’ and sweepers, say their contract has not been renewed since last month. When they were recruited, they were appointed for a monthly salary of Rs. 750 and it has been gradually increased to Rs.1,500, but they do not have any benefits such as paid leave. Though the contract period ended on June 7, the workers were asked to continue. But they have not yet received their salary for May.

Sathyavani is around 35 and has two children admitted at a nearby residential school. As she has no place to go to, she lives on the premises. “There is nothing to prove that we are employees at the hospital. Since I don’t have a ration card, the school wants a letter from the hospital so that my children can get concessions. The hospital is not even providing a letter because I am a contract labourer,” she said.

These workers say they sweep the hospital premises and do odd jobs the permanent employees refuse to do. “We are treated with little dignity. We do menial jobs like cleaning human excrement but we have not been provided with gloves,” one of the workers said.

Dean P. Ramakrishnan said the salaries of private contract workers were disbursed by the contractor and that it took time. “We have called for fresh tenders for contract workers,” he added.

On Wednesday, the workers presented a petition to Health Minister V.S. Vijay seeking an extension of their contract as well as a hike in their salary.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012

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