108 ambulance workers stage protest, demanding regulation of work hours

They also urge the State govt. to take control of their employment process and make provision for a fixed parking lot for the ambulances

Published - June 11, 2024 07:28 pm IST - MADURAI 

Members of 108 Ambulance Workers Union staging a demonstration in Madurai on Tuesday, urging the State government to implement their charter of demands. 

Members of 108 Ambulance Workers Union staging a demonstration in Madurai on Tuesday, urging the State government to implement their charter of demands.  | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Members of 108 Ambulance Workers’ Union staged a protest outside the District Collector’s office here on Tuesday, demanding an increase in wages and regulation of working hours.

The protesters urged the State government to take control of employment process, which is managed by a private organisation, EMRI-GHS. “As the employment is carried out through the private channel, no regulation is followed in hiring drivers and workers,” they said.

As they were managed by the contract company, the workers were denied their basic right of forming unions and raising their demands, they said. “Those who dare to raise their voice against the authorities for genuine reasons are either kicked out or suspended indefinitely,” said V. Varadharaj, a union functionary.

The protesters also demanded provision of basic necessities like toilet facilities for both men and women workers and a space for them to rest in free hours.

They said they were sometimes made to work for more than 12 hours a day due to insufficient staff. “This not only drains the workers’ efficiency, but also leads to danger when they fail to deliver their work properly,” Mr. Varadharaj added.

No amount of pay could balance their work as it involved their own lives and the patients’ lives, he said. “It is the driver who is responsible for the ambulance. If something goes wrong, he will be held accountable for the damage. When the government or the contract company could not provide a fixed parking lot for the ambulances who would bear the cost if there was any loss?,” he asked.

Due to unavailability of ambulances, when an emergency call was received from places like Sholavandan, ambulances had to be rushed there to pick up the patient, which was not good for both the patient and the driver, who had to speed up his vehicles for several kilometres, the protesters said.

“The delay could even lead to death of the patient. Hence, the government, in addition to maintaining the existing vehicles, should take steps to procure new ambulances to reduce the wide gap in delivering emergency service to the public,” they added.

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