Salaries delayed for month, uncertainty looms over Telangana NHM workers

Approximately 17,541 contract and outsourcing employees are under the National Health Mission in Telangana.

BySumit Jha

Published May 31, 2024 | 5:00 PMUpdatedMay 31, 2024 | 5:00 PM

Telangana NHM worker salary

The health workers acting as the backbone of the government healthcare sector in Telangana are struggling to make ends meet due to delays in getting their salaries.

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) along with many other employees who are part of the National Health Mission (NHM) in Telangana received their salaries for March only on Friday, 31 May.

Even though the authorities concerned have promised them that their salary for April would be credited on 4 June, uncertainty looms over their heads.

Also, the authorities did not spill any beans regarding May’s salary.

There are approximately 17,541 contract and outsourcing employees under the NHM in Telangana.

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Struggling since December last year

The workers have been struggling since December 2023 due to the untimely disbursement of their salaries.

In March, they received their salaries for the preceding four months in a single go. However, their salary has been delayed since then.

“A representative of NHM workers met with the NHM commissioner on 30 May. He assured us that the salary for March would be credited on 31 May and that for April by 4 June. However, there is still uncertainty regarding the May salary,” NHM Contract and Outsourcing Employees Union General Secretary Rama Rajesh Khanna told South First.

“We request the immediate payment of three months’ wages and seven months’ Pay Revision Commission (PRC) arrears due for March, April, and May to the contract and outsourcing employees working under the National Health Mission scheme,” Khanna added.

Even though they received the salaries for March, the payments for the remaining two months — April and May — is still pending.

Pay Revision Commission (PRC) arrears in Telangana refer to the delayed payment of salary increments and benefits resulting from the implementation of the Pay Revision Commission’s recommendations.

These arrears typically include the difference between the old and new pay scales and other benefits such as dearness allowance and house rent allowance.

The PRC arrears have been a contentious issue for government employees and retirees. The previous BRS government also promised arrears for contract employees of NHM but they have not received these payments for the last seven months.

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The NHM workers

Khanna said that almost all cadres in the NHM scheme, including ANMs, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) doctors, Mid-Level Health Providers (MLPHs), Urban Health Center Community Officers, accountants, watchmen, sweepers, pharmacists, lab technicians, staff nurses, and support staff, amount to about 17,514 employees across 78 cadres.

These employees have been doing their duties under the contract outsourcing system for several years.

“These employees are constantly available for duty, whether at PHCs, CHCs, vaccination programs, or as lab technicians and attend to their duties from various locations, often travelling away from their homes,” said Khanna.

“These employees belong to poor and middle-class families. They cannot manage their households unless they receive their salary on the first of every month. The condition of the workers is dire, as they have not received their wages for the last three months (March, April, and May).”

“Paying house rent, children’s school fees, and family maintenance has become challenging. Despite submitting numerous petitions to district-level officials regarding this issue, the salaries have not yet been disbursed,” Khanna added.

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Former health minister stand

BRS senior leader and former health minister T Harish Rao alleged on Thursday that it was unfortunate that the Congress government did not pay salaries of the contract and outsourcing employees working under the NHM.

“17,541 people working in 78 departments, including Urban Primary Health Centres, Basic Health Centres, Basti Davakhanas, and Telangana Diagnostics, are facing severe difficulties due to the non-payment of salaries. The non-payment of salaries to the medical staff, who are constantly working to protect the health of the people, for months is a reflection of the negligence of the state government towards public health,” said Harish Rao.

He added that this is another proof that the words of the Congress government, which boasts of paying salaries on the 1st of every month, are hollow.

“On behalf of the NHM employees, I demand the government immediately pay the PRC dues along with the pending salary of three months,” said Harish Rao.

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Delay from the Union government

The salaries for the people working for programmes under the HRM are funded in a partnership between the Union government and the state governments in a ratio of 60:40.

The Union government allocates funds to the state based on how the programmes recommended by the Union government are implemented.

“When we met the Commissioner of NHM, RV Karnan, on 17 May, he informed us that the state government has not received the Union government share,” said Khanna.

“₹323 crore has not been released to Telangana despite following all norms set by the Centre in this financial year. Telangana received a central share of ₹564.40 crore against an allocation of ₹888.13 crore during the previous financial year 2023-24,” an NHM official told South First.

“We are currently providing salaries from the state share, but many of the programs will be put on hold if we do not receive the funds from the Centre,” the official added.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)