- 17,000 workers associated with UP emergency ambulance services
- The workers have been demanding protective gear, pending salaries
- The employees are on contract with a private company
The association of ambulance employees in Uttar Pradesh said they are stopping work from this afternoon over non-payment of salaries for two months and lack of protective gear for them despite being on the front-line in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest visuals sent to NDTV by the ambulance workers showed them leaving their ambulances, saying they were heading home because both the government and the private firm they were employed with have refuse to listen to their demands.
102 and 108 emergency ambulance services in Uttar Pradesh are managed and operated by a private company - GVK - under contract with the state government. There are a total of about 4,500 such ambulances deployed across the state, according to the Ambulance Employees' Association. The association says 17,000 workers - drivers and emergency technicians - are posted to these ambulance. These employees are on contract with the private firm.
Update : UP Ambulance association is sending us photos and videos of drivers and technicians leaving their ambulances and going home . If this strike goes through across UP , it will be serious issue. @UPGovt , GVK group , all these people are asking for is pay and safety gear ! https://t.co/4lOOs4HppFpic.twitter.com/sROUGPtmEQ— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) March 31, 2020
"We do not have sanitisers, gloves or proper masks. This mask you see on me, 15 pieces have been distributed for each ambulance but we don't know when we will get new ones. You cannot wear this mask more than 2 hours. We have not received salaries for two months. When we go to fill oxygen, people don't allow us inside. We told the local chief medical officer to arrange better supplies but got no response. Our vehicles have not been sanatised either," said Madhukar Singh, an ambulance driver based in the state's Pratapgarh district.
A letter written by the ambulance association to the private company says all ambulance operators will stop work and go home starting this afternoon if their demands for better safety equipment and the release of salaries are not met. "We need safety equipment like what doctors are getting," the letter says. There has been no response from GVK on the issue so far; calls to a top functionary in the company went unanswered.
The ambulance association claims the Uttar Pradesh government has told them to negotiate salary issues directly with the private company, saying the state government cannot provide help in this matter.