States, ULBs not paying frontline workers, healthcare professionals is nothing short of govt default

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October 1, 2020 6:50 AM

States and ULBs not paying frontline workers and healthcare professionals their salaries is nothing short of govt default

Despite the Centre issuing guidelines to all states and UTs for timely payment of salaries of healthcare workers in June, many have failed to do this.Despite the Centre issuing guidelines to all states and UTs for timely payment of salaries of healthcare workers in June, many have failed to do this.

The Centre and the states were categorical that businesses pay their dues to workers during the lockdown—and yet, governments continue to default on the payment of salaries to healthcare and frontline workers. Given the chronic shortage of healthcare professionals, you would expect the government to take special care of frontline workers, but instead, they haven’t been paid for months. Doctors at Bara Hindu Rao hospital in Delhi have been forced to go on an online strike because of non-payment of salaries for three months. Meanwhile, the municipal corporation and the Delhi government are busy playing a blame-game over funds for salaries.

Delhi, sadly, is not the only state to have witnessed default. Despite the Centre issuing guidelines to all states and UTs for timely payment of salaries of healthcare workers in June, many have failed to do this. Kerala, earlier this month, was accused of paying less than what it had promised to newly-recruited junior doctors. As per a report in the Times of India, nearly 870 doctors of 1,080 appointed in first-line treatment centres had tendered their resignation as the state government gave them Rs 27,000 per month as salary, instead of the Rs 42,000 promised at the time of recruitment. Earlier, in August, the SC had directed four states—Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Tripura—and Delhi to pay salaries of doctors.

The government defaulting goes beyond healthcare workers. The Delhi government, private aided colleges’ managements argue, has also not paid the salary of staff at DU colleges for months now. Meanwhile, MCD workers have also not been paid. Given how the government will need to muster its full resources for pan-India Covid-19 immunisation, it can’t afford to delay salaries of frontline workers.

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