Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 18:
Demanding fulfillment of their seven-point charter of demand including better and timely pay, 108 ambulance drivers, helpers and medical technicians in Odisha have threatened to go on strike from tomorrow.
The fleet of around 420 vehicles, which provides free ambulance services across the state, will halt if the ambulance workers have their way. Each 108 ambulance has three staffers, driver, medical technician and a helper.
On the other hand, the authorities have warned that strict action can be initiated against those who cease work as the state government has already invoked Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on the 108 ambulance workers on February 9.
ESMA is an act of Parliament of India to ensure the delivery of essential services, which if obstructed would affect the normal life of the people.
“Ambulance workers’ demands are being looked into and there will be a discussion over it on March 2. Therefore, it will be very unfortunate if the ambulance workers go on strike,” said 108 Ambulance Project head Sabyasachi Biswal.
“Also if the employees go on strike then action can be taken against them as ESMA guidelines have already been enforced on them,” he added.
State government has given a notification of enforcement of ESMA, which stays in force six months from the date of its invocation, on the ambulance workers on February 9, according to officials sources.
Notably, ambulance workers in January this year had meet Chief Minister and all district magistrates with their demands for better and regular pay as well as other facilities.