In a shocking incident in Kerala, 868 juniors doctors who were appointed to COVID First-Line Treatment Centres (FLTCs) have submitted their resignation after their salary was cut by the Kerala government. The doctors are among the total 1080 MBBS students who graduated from the government medical colleges this year and temporarily appointed on COVID-19 duties. This means, over 80% of the junior doctors appointed by the state govt have submitted their resignation.
They were appointed as Temporary Medical Officers for a period of three months to provide their services during the ongoing corona pandemic. The government had promised to pay the doctors an amount of Rs 42,000 per month but they only got Rs 27,000.
According to the Dr Ousman Hussain KP, the President of the Kerala Junior Doctors Association, “This is being done only to us. The doctors appointed for Covid duty on a temporary basis under the National Health Mission are being given full salary”. Last week, the Association had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, the Health Minister and the Principal Secretary requesting exemption from the salary cut but their request was not addressed.
The doctors have been raising this issue before the concerned authorities but apparently their problems weren’t paid heed to. Krishnapriya TS, the Secretary of the Kerala Junior Doctors Association, said, “Our posts are temporary and we were recruited for a period of three months. We have been working on the frontline ever since we joined duty. It’s totally unfair to cut salary and many of us are taking money from our own pockets to cover our daily expenses. We took up this issue with the authorities many a time in the past few weeks but we didn’t get a positive response from any of the authorities”.
The Kerala government had passed an ordinance in April this year, to bypass a Kerala High Court order that put a stay on the government’s decision to defer six days’ salary of government employees from April to August. The ordinance called the Disaster and Public Emergency Special Provisions Act empowered the Kerala government to deduct up to 25 per cent of the salaries of all the state employees. The government’s decision was met with stiff resistance from various sections of the state government employees.