Chandigarh, May 9 (PTI) Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Sunday appealed to agitating employees of the National Health Mission (NHM) to call off their strike and resume duties from Monday in larger public interest.
He also warned of taking action against them under 'The Disaster Management Act' if they did not pay heed to his appeal.
Around 9,000 contractual employees of the health department working under the NHM Punjab are on strike, said Inderjit Rana, state president of NHM employees association.
They are demanding regularisation of their jobs and increase in salaries, said Rana. The health minister, meanwhile, said Punjab is combating the COVID-19 pandemic and the state has witnessed a sharp increase in new cases and deaths, according to a government statement.
He further said this strike has extremely affected the 'COVID Prevention Drive' especially in rural areas of the state.
The week-long absence of Community Health Officers, ANMs, doctors and other employees at health and wellness centres has led to an increase in the positivity and death rates as they assign the duties of sampling and tracing of suspected patients of COVID-19, said Sidhu.
If the NHM staff remains adamant, it might result in critical circumstances in urban and rural areas, said Sidhu.
Sidhu stated the recruitment of Community Health Officers (CHOs) was started in 2019.
After their joining, the Punjab government provided them a special raise of 12 per cent in salary over and above the 6 per cent annual increment in year 2020 to CHOs and all NHM's employees.
Giving details of a new proposal offered by the state government, Sidhu said this year, a pay raise of 9 per cent plus 6 per cent is being offered to the NHM's employees.
CHOs are also given maximum approved performance based incentive of Rs 15,000 per month in addition to their respective salary for doing COVID related duties, he said. PTI CHS VSD RHL