Ranchi, June 16, 2008: Contractual doctors today called off their agitation after health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi laid down a few conditions for regularising their service even as the medicos promised not to go on strike again.
The decision to call off the agitation came after the doctors met Sahi and discussed their problems in an hour-long meeting.
“We decided to call off our agitation because most of our demands have been fulfilled,” said Bimlesh Singh, the president of Jharkhand Contractual Doctors’ Association (JCDA).
Regarding regularisation of services — the primary demand of the doctors — the minister said the government would explore the possibility of selecting contract doctors only through interviews if the number of applicants for vacancies were less than three times the vacancies.
The government would also consider Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) rules before permitting such selection.
Contract doctors who fail to get through the public service commission interview can continue to work as per their contract until 60 — the age to superannuate from government jobs, Singh said. The doctors would get benefits such as provident fund and gratuity while women doctors would get maternity leave according to labour laws.
The doctors had wanted the government to appoint them on a regular basis by conducting interviews without having to go through the JPSC exams.
“We have submitted the Himachal Pradesh model to the state government, where all contract doctors were absorbed without any age bar. The minister promised us he would consider the Himachal model,” he added.
Sahi said: “We have agreed to allow doctors who have crossed the maximum age limit fixed by JPSC to work till the age of retirement. In the next round of appointments through JPSC, we will see if appointments through viva-voce alone can be done.”
Earlier, the state government announced 1,070 vacancies for doctors would be filled through JPSC. Now, if the number of applicants was less than 3,021, the state government would ask the JPSC if the vacancies could be filled through interviews alone, instead of the written test-cum-interview.
The health minister told The Telegraph, “The crisis began because contract doctors wanted to stop the JPSC examination for appointing 1,070 doctors.”
The agreement between JCDA and the state government also stipulated the re-employment of contract doctors who were dismissed for taking part in the strike.
The doctors’ dismissal would be revoked with effect from the midnight of May 31 — the government’s deadline for them to join work.
Sahi also agreed to pay salaries to the doctors for the period they were on strike. However, the payment would depend on service rules, which means adjustment of casual leave against the strike period — May 25 to June 16.
The contract doctors, on their part, had to sign an undertaking that they would not go on strike again.