Demanding that the State government resolve their long-pending issues, members of the 108 Employees Union staged a protest near Gandhi Statue at the GVMC Building in the city on Thursday. The members staged a one-day relay hunger strike as part of the protest.
Union president G. Koteswara Rao claimed that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, during his padayatra of the State before the 2019 elections, had assured them that the ‘108’ workers would be recognised as State government employees. “Three years have passed, but the government is not bothered about our plight,” he said.
He also alleged that the salaries of the employees were not being paid regularly and claimed that the Provident Fund (PF) and ESI contributions which were supposed to be made by the managing agency were being deducted from the salaries of the employees.
“Employees are also being harassed by the management. Sometimes, a 108 driver may have to drive at high speed in order to ensure that the patient is taken to the hospital in time. In such course, if there is any minor damage to the vehicle, the management is terminating the employment of the driver,” he said.
Union State secretary M. Srinivasa Rao said that there are 51 ambulances in erstwhile Visakhapatnam district and 230 employees. There is a shortage of 20 to 25 hands, he said, adding that some mandals in the district do not have ambulances. He further urged the government to ensure that the dues owed to the staff are cleared at the earliest.
The employees’ union have also been demanding the government to reduce their shift from 12 hours to eight hours. He added that in several ambulances, the medical equipment kit is often found to be missing the required medicines, due to which the employees are being criticised by patients.