The contract drivers and paramedical staff of Arogya Kavacha-108 ambulance services launched an indefinite strike across the State beginning Friday night, demanding among other things better wages and job security. About 517 free ambulances are operated by GVK-EMRI across the State under the Arogya Kavacha scheme.

The 108-ambulance project is a public-private partnership project and the employees (one driver and two attendants in each ambulance) are paid by the private firm.

DHO Dr. S.M. Malegowda, speaking to SOM this morning, said there were a total 26 ‘108’ ambulances operating in the district (out of which two are under repair) including five in the city. One driver and two nurses are attached to each ambulance, working in two shifts a day.

The Health Department has nothing to do with the salary structure and the issues of protesting employees have to be sorted out by their employers (GVK-EMRI) and not by the Department, he pointed out.

The DHO also said that the services will not be affected in the district as the Department has made alternative arrangements to operate the ambulance with the deployment of driver and nursing staff attached to the Department as one of the ambulance keys is with the Department.

R. Sridhar, President, Karnataka Rajya Arogya Kavacha ‘108’ Ambulance Naukara Sangha, speaking in Bangalore yesterday, said that 2,400 contract workers of the ‘108’ service across the State have not gone to work from 8 pm (Friday, July 26), demanding a wage hike and job security for the staff, who are on contract for four years since the service started in 2009.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore