Despite HC stay, 108 ambulance drivers to go on strike

Representative image

Chennai: Though the Madras High Court has restrained the 108 Ambulance Workers Welfare Union – Tamilnadu from going on strike this Deepavali, many employees do not wish to comply with the ruling if the government does not set the minimum wage. They point out that they have been pressing their demands for the past four years.

Speaking to News Today, 108 Ambulance Workers Welfare Union – Tamilnadu and COITU State secretary, R Rajendran, says, “As Deepavali is around the corner, the other State government employees enjoy the benefits of bonus and minimum wages. Contrary to it are the ambulance workers who work under a public-private partnership between the government and GVK-EMRI. As we attend to emergencies, we do not come under labour laws and work 12 hours a day. We have been representing to the government about regulating the salary for a long time and we are yet to see the end of the tunnel.”

“Every year, it becomes a ritual for us to go on strike. But, it is only after we stage a demonstration that the government hears our cries,” he adds.

The employees had requested a 30 per cent Deepavali bonus, for which it is learnt that “GVK-EMRI has not made any move and fulfil the demand”.

“Since we are emergency workers, every year, the court stays our strike but little do they understand our plight and grant us our genuine requests, which we consider as basic requirements,” he states.

While the court has restrained their protest, the workers ask the authorities why they are not brought under the purview of labour laws.

“We have started to gather support from the public by explaining to them our angst and all the workers throughout the State are set to stage a strike on the night of 5 November, here in Chennai,” concludes Rajendran.

The Madras High Court Thursday ordered an interim stay on the proposed 24-hour strike by 108 ambulance workers’ union in Tamilnadu on 5-6 November.

A division bench, comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice S M Subramonium Prasad, gave the order on a public interest litigation filed by P Selvarajan who sought to declare the strike call as illegal.

The union has decided to go on strike for 24 hours from 8 pm on 5 November demanding bonus for Deepavali.

The ambulance services in the State are run by GVK-EMRI, a non-profit organisation, under the public-private partnership (PPP) with the State-owned Tamilnadu Health Systems Project.

Bhavani Prabhakar