Joined by staff who have not been paid
Resident doctors and interns of government-run Victoria Hospital and Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute began an indefinite strike on Monday. They have withdrawn all services at OPDs and operation theatres.
The strike, organized by the Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors (KARD), has also been joined by housekeeping staff who are a part of the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU). They have separate demands.
Dr Ramesh Krishnan , the medical superintendent at Victoria Hospital, said that till the government doesn’t release funds, the hospital management will not do anything.
Dr Namrata, a former president of KARD, informed The Observer: “We started a strike on November 9 but dissolved it soon when the health minister promised to meet our demands in 10 days. Our demands still haven’t been met, so we have called this indefinite strike from today.”
Housekeeping staff and ward attendants shared their troubles with The Observer. “Housekeeping staff get Rs 14,000 a month and ward attendants gets Rs 10,000. We have not been paid for three months. Many of us are the sole earners in the family. My family is finding it difficult to survive,” said a ward attendant who did not want to be named.
Many employees live in faraway places like Peenya and Mandya . Half of their salaries are spent on travel.
Maitri, a lawyer representing the housekeeping staff, said: “The superintendent says the money is stuck with the government. With no payment for three months, how are they supposed to run their households? They will be on an indefinite strike till their salaries are paid.”
The doctors and interns have three demands: Restructure fees according to the year 2018-19; immediately release funds for Covid risk allowance; and pay stipend to post-MBBS junior interns timely.
Dr Navin, president of KARD, addressing the strikers, said: “Covid allowance is our right. We are demanding our right.”
Anuradha Parmeshwari, president of the Indian Medical Association, Bengaluru, said the IMA supports KARD and hopes the health minister and the CM will listen to their demands. They don’t want patients to suffer.“The collateral damage of these strikes will be to the patients.”
Tajunnisa, who had a severe stomachache, said she visited the OPD but the staff there did not attend to her. “They just gave me medicines and told me to come after two weeks. There aren’t many doctors on duty because of the strike .”
B L Srinivasa Murthy, Assistant Commissioner of Police, VV Puram division, said they haven’t received any information regarding this.
No one from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka was available for comment.