Displaying placards which said ‘Violation of Labour Laws against the Law’, ‘Reformation in Privatisation’, Employees of the GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVK-EMRI) on Tuesday took out a protest march demanding the state government to end the contract with the company and take over the emergency service.
The protest march organized by the Meghalaya EMRI Workers’ Union (MEMRIWU) from Lawmali to Madan Student, Jaiaw was also supported by the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organizations (CoMSO).
The contract signed between the state government and the GVK EMRI will end in March, this year.
Reacting to their demand, Health Minister AL Hek said that the state government will examine the matter but so far there has been no complaint received against the services being provided by the GVK EMRI.
He also reminded that the employees of the GVK EMRI are not directly under the state government. “We have held several meetings with the delegation of their association and have also made it very clear to them that they are not under the government,” he said.
Asked, the health minister said if the service of the GVK EMRI is not satisfactory, the government will definitely review and accordingly take a call.
“The government is not sitting idle but is here to ensure the service to the people is not compromised at any cost,” he added.
Earlier while speaking to reporters during the protest, the president of the union Roypar Kharraswai said since the contract signed with the GVK-EMRI will expire in March, the state government is demanded not to call for fresh tender.
“This is because we strongly demand that the state government should take over the emergency services instead of outsourcing it to private companies,” he said.
Asked, Kharraswai however warned that the union will be compelled to take stern action if the government fails to comply with the demand.
“We may even have to call for a strike to ensure our demand is achieved because if the running of the emergency services is fully funded by the state government, we see no reason why the government should hesitate to take the responsibility of taking over the same,” he said.
According to him, the government at present is spending Rs 2.47 lakh per 108 ambulances per month.
He also pointed out that states like Kerala and Andra Pradesh are examples of the emergency services being managed by the state governments.
To a query, the president of the union also accused the GVK EMRI of cheating the state government. “Of 43 ambulances, there are 7 which are running only a single shift instead of 12 hours,” he said.
“Assam and Meghalaya started the emergency services at the same time. Assam started with only 50 108 ambulances in 2008 and now they have increased their fleet to 600 but in Meghalaya, the number of ambulances was instead reduced to 23 out of 43,” he alleged.
Kharraswai further alleged the company of violating the labour laws besides failure to address the shortage of manpower which has affected the emergency services in the state.