MARD Stipend Strike: Maha Government imposes MESMA, Medicos refuse to budge
Mumbai: Soon after the doctors launched their indefinite strike against the long standing stipend issues, the government imposed the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) Act 2011 claiming that three major demands of resident doctors have been fulfilled and stipends have been processed.
However, despite this notice, the doctors have continued their strike. From August 7, the resident doctors are protesting against the salary disparity, irregular payment of the stipend, absence of clear regulations for TB and maternity leave among other reasons.
Speaking to the media, the General Secretary of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) stated, "We have been asked to resume duties or face MESMA. But, we will continue our strike. We are ready to face consequences."
The MARD said that at least 2,400 resident doctors attached to five medical colleges in Mumbai, and 6,000 across Maharashtra, have refrained from routine work in government hospitals. Office-bearers of the association addressed a press conference in the afternoon after the imposition of MESMA and reasserted that the strike would continue.
“Neither we have good working conditions, nor fixed working hours. This system is already taking toll of our physical and mental abilities. Now, by not paying stipend, the government is making us suffer on financial and social fronts too,” said Dr Mukul Deshpande, President of MARD told TOI.
Soon after the strike launch, the state government invoked MESMA Act 2011 against the striking doctors. The gazette issued to this effect, signed by Shivaji S. Patankar, Joint Secretary to Government; read the following:
“Whereas, the resident doctors (Junior Resident-1, Junior Resident-2, Junior Resident-3 and Senior Resident-1, Senior Resident-2, Senior Resident-3) rendering services in Medical Colleges and Hospitals of Government and Municipal Corporations have gone on strike/mass bunk w.e.f. 7th August 2019 ;
And whereas, as per the provision of sub-clause (iii) of clause (a) of section 2 of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2011 ( Mah. XII of 2012), any service connected with the maintenance of public health including hospitals and dispensaries is an essential service for the purposes of the said Act ; and, therefore, the services of the resident doctors is an essential service for the purposes of the said Act ;
And whereas, the State Government is satisfied that it is expedient in the public interest to prohibit the strike / mass bunk in the said essential service with immediate effect.
Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 4 of the said Act, the Government of Maharashtra hereby prohibits the strike/ mass bunk in the said essential service in the public interest, with effect from the date of publication of this order in the Maharashtra Government Gazette. By order and in the name of the Governor of Maharashtra.”
“I have issued instructions to the heads of medical colleges to detain them and take appropriate action,” said Dr TP Lahane, the Director of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) informed The Indian Express, claiming that three major demands of resident doctors have been fulfilled and stipends have been processed.
Despite MESMA, many medicos did not report to work
“In JJ hospital, 575 resident doctors did not report to work. We will issue them notices,” said Dean Dr Ajay Chandanwale. In Nair hospital, Dean Dr RN Bharma said 328 doctors, who did not report to work, will be issued notices. “Action will be taken according to the government’s directions,” Bharmal added.