CATS ambulance services crippled as contractual employees go on strike
NEW DELHI: The Delhi government's Central Accident and Trauma Services (CATS) ambulance services was into paralysed in all 11 zones of the national Capital on Friday, after 1,200 contractual drivers and paramedics went on strike Thursday night.
Officials said some agitators vandalised nearly 200 of the 260 ambulances under the emergency fleet, and only 50 ambulances are now responding to emergency calls across Delhi, bringing the life-saving essential service to a grinding halt.
Sources said the strike was announced without prior notice by ambulance drivers and paramedical workers belonging to CATS, as a result of irregular payments and disciplinary action taken against the vice-president of the workers union.
"Workers also damaged ambulances by deflating the tyres and taking out the batteries. We have filed complaints against the workers because they are obstructing emergency services," M K Rawat, head of operations, BVG-UKSAS, said.
This is not the first time that CATS workers have indulged in negligence at work and sabotage of emergency ambulance services.
According to CATS officials, BVG-UKSAS, the company involved in operation of CATS ambulances, had earlier reported similar incidents of workers sabotaging ambulance services by damaging vehicles, oxygen cylinders, consuming liquor on duty, and not carrying out their required duties.
"The paramedic worker in question, Rajveer Singh Chouhan, had not reported to work since October 20 without giving any reason. When asked to explain for his dereliction of duty in a life-saving service, Chouhan, along with at least 10 other workers, barged into the office of BVG and threatened to go on strike," Rawat told Millennium Post.
However, Narendra Kumar Lakra, a member of the workers union, said the strike is a result of irregularities of salary payments, no leaves, and putting workers out roaster while they are on the job round the clock.
Sources said barely 20 per cent of around 700 calls made for ambulances were responded by CATS, while the rest diverted. However, CATS officials claim that no calls were turned down.
"We are running 50 ambulances with our regular employees. We have asked hospital ambulances to be on standby. We have also spoken to the DCP and ACP of PCR operations to request them for support," said a CATS official.
"This unfortunate incident has happened due to anti-social elements among the contractual employees. We strongly condemn it. We hope better sense will prevail and that we will be able to resume normal services soon.
"We shall take all necessary action to get ambulances repaired on a war footing and sincerely regret the convenience caused to the people of Delhi. But we are helpless under these circumstances," Rawat stated.