Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Railway union gives 15-day ultimatum; threatens strike


Railway union gives 15-day ultimatum; threatens strike
NRMU members led a protest march till the hospital (top), also cited the lack of life-saving facilities like ICU. Photo by Mahendra Kolhe
Seeks better services for 8.5k staffers at Rly Hospital, manned by just 8 doctors.

Railway services may be affected later this month as National Railway Majdoor Union (NRMU) Pune Division has threatened to stop work if their demands for basic medical services at the Railway Hospital are not met within 15 days.

On Tuesday, NRMU, which has been seeking a well-equipped hospital and better health care services for its over 8,500 employees and their family members for the last eight years, led a protest march to the Railway Hospital, where it submitted their list of demands. Shockingly, the Railway Hospital of Pune division has just eight doctors to cater to thousands of patients.

Claiming that they have been denied health care benefits, and are being forced to seek medical aid in private hospitals during emergencies, NRMU said that the hospital is understaffed and lacks critical and life-saving facilities such as Intensive Care Unit (ICU), diagnostic sonography and dialysis centre among many others. "The hospital provides services to around 40,000 people, but only eight doctors are available. There is a need for at least 20 doctors, specialists and physicians.

There is no emergency department and ambulance service. Railway employees have no option but to approach private hospital during an emergency," said Sunil Kamthan, Chairman, NRMU and Station Manager of Pune Railway Station. "Reimbursement for medical treatment is very complicated, since all kinds of illnesses are not covered by it.

Many employees, who go to private hospitals, get less than 50 per cent of the amount they spend, and that too after five-six years. We need a hospital that will provide us cashless treatment," added Kamthan. Saying that NRMU has been demanding a fully-equipped independent hospital since the time Pune Railway Division was established, Sunil Bajare, Divisional Secretary of Pune Division, said, "We have conducted various meetings with the Railway authorities to discuss the issue.

Two years ago, we formed a Permanent Negotiation Missionary (PNM) committee, with the Railway management, to finalise the proposal of the new hospital, but the management is reluctant to take any decision." Fed up with delaying tactics, Bajare added, "We led a protest march against the Railway authorities, and have given them 15 days to fulfill our demands.

If they fail to take any decision, we will stop work," added Bajare. Citing shortage of funds as a reason for not having a well-equipped hospital, a senior Railway official, on condition of anonymity, said, "Funds get approved by the Central government, but Pune Division does not have the power to take a decision on this. However, critically ill patients can get themselves treated in private hospitals and claim medical reimbursement."

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