HC stays ambulance workers strike warns of strict action

HC stays ambulance workers strike, warns of strict action

A Deepavali-eve strike proposed by 108 Ambulance Workers Union has been restrained by the Madras high court, for the second consecutive year.

A division bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued the interim injunction on Thursday, on a plea moved by P Selvarajan of Salem who sought to declare the strike call as illegal.

The judges referred to a October 13, 2017 order of the high court restraining the workers from going on strike and warning that those who refuse to drive an ambulance would be penalised for gross contempt of the court.

The union has decided to go on strike for 24 hours from 8 pm on November 5 demanding a 20 per cent bonus for Deepavali, which falls on November 6 in Tamil Nadu.

The ambulance service is provided by GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVK EMRI), a non-profit organisation registered in Andhra Pradesh, under a public private partnership arrangement with the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project.

Under the aegis of State Department of Health and Family Welfare, the Tamilnadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) kicked off the 108 ambulance services in 2008.

Currently, 936 vehicles and 41 first responder bikes are distributed across Tamilnadu. There are also 65 neonatal, 78 four-wheel-drive vehicles and 57 advanced life support ambulances.

Stating that ambulance service has been declared as a public utility service under section 2(n) of the Industrial Disputes Act by the state government, the petitioner stated that the high court in 2015 had observed that the strike by ambulance workers had become an annual event on the eve of Deepavali.