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Resident doctors at Mumbai municipal hospitals launch protest over stipend arrears, threaten to go on fast

Resident doctors have demanded ₹1.2 lacs as stiped arrears for Coronavirus duty and have vowed to fast if demands are not met

On Friday (May 7), the resident doctors of 4 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals launched a social media campaign against BMC’s decision to compensating their stipend arrears with the money paid for Coronavirus duty. The healthcare professionals had been at the forefront of the Coronavirus duty since March 2020.

Rupsa Chakraborty, a journalist with the Hindustan Times, has shared visuals of resident doctors expressing their dissent on social media. With hashtags such as #BMCBetrayedUs and #BetrayedBetrayedStillWorking written on papers, the resident doctors mobilised their campaign on Twitter.

Despite the ill-treatment meted out to them by the resident doctors, they are still continuing their service at the time of the pandemic. They had demanded ₹1.2 lacs as stiped arrears for Coronavirus duty and have vowed to fast if demands are not met. The resident doctors will however continue with their duty.

Resident doctors denied dues totalling ₹1.2 lacs by BMC

Reportedly, the resident doctors were being paid ₹10,000 per month for duty in the Coronavirus ward since May 2020. As such, they received a payment of ₹80,000 for Covid work until December last year. The BMC administration had however discontinued payment for Covid work in January when Coronavirus cases fell. It had announced a hike in salary by ₹10,000 in September last year.

Despite the hike in salary arrears being announced in September 2020, about 3000 doctors in four BMC hospitals received the circular only in March this year. The BMC hospitals include KEM, Cooper, Sion, and Nair. While the resident doctors had been anticipating accumulated arrears for the hiked stipend, they received a rude shock from the BMC. The administration told them recently that the payment made for Covid work was an advance payment of the hike in stipends that was announced in September last year.

Now that the BMC has proposed to adjust the payment for Covid work in their hiked stipend arrears, the resident workers are being denied an amount of ₹1.2 lacs. Forced by circumstances, the Coronavirus warriors have taken to social media to share how the BMC has denied them of their dues. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors has threatened to go on a strike, if the matter is not resolved in 7 days. The resident doctors have received the support of senior doctors, working at the BMC hospitals.

While speaking about the matter, a resident doctor told the Times of India that a resident doctor received a stipend of ₹55000 while an MBBS doctor was being paid ₹80000 to MBBS doctors. He pointed out that a circular was released in June last year that a daily incentive of ₹300 will be paid to all health workers, besides ₹10,000 for those employed for Covid work. The resident doctor conceded that the circular did not mention that ₹10000 would be an advance payment of stipend.

BMC justifies move, claims resident doctors were not misled

In its defense, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has claimed that the amount has been paid in advance. Suresh Kakani, the additional municipal commissioner, claimed that resident doctors were never told that ₹10,000 would be an incentive. He alleged, “We wanted to bring their stipend on par with the rest and hence the hike of P510,000 was decided upon. But since we didn’t have an approval from the general body then, we gave it as an advance. We got the approval two weeks ago and accordingly adjustments would happen.”

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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