A three-day strike from Monday to Wednesday (July 18 to 20) called by government doctors under Nagaland In-Service Doctors’ Association (NIDA), that could have led to confrontation with the government was averted when NIDA decided to keep its stir in abeyance even as the government had on July 17 (Sunday) invoked Section 3 (1) of the Nagaland Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1978 (ESMA).
Under Section 4 of Nagaland Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1978, any doctor going on cessation of work or strike would be punished on conviction with imprisonment for a term that might extend up to one year, or with fine that could extend up to Rs 1,000 or with both.
In the order, state chief secretary J. Alam IAS also informed that the governor had been satisfied that the call given by NIDA for ceasing of work by doctors employed/deployed in government health units/facilities from Monday would seriously impact the delivery of essential health services, thereby putting in grave jeopardy the life and well-being of the people of the State.
As per the order, no doctor employed/deployed in any government health unit/facility should go for agitation or cessation of work and any such act would be considered illegal.
Such doctors against whom action was taken would also be liable to disciplinary action under the relevant service/conduct rules or contractual conditions as applicable.
Notwithstanding anything contained in CrPC, any police officer could arrest without warrant any such doctor, who was reasonably suspected of having committed the illegal act of ceasing work/going on strike under section 8 of the Nagaland Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1978, the order ruled.
NIDA has been demanding raising of superannuation from 60 to 62 for government in-service doctors and the decision to go on a 3-day strike was reportedly approved at a joint meeting with senior doctors from all districts and directorates on June 23.
The 3-day strike would have been followed by an indefinite strike in all government health centres and hospitals from July 21 if government failed to accede to NIDA’s demand.
NIDA stir under ‘suspended animation’
Nagaland In-Service Doctors Association (NIDA) Sunday night decided to suspend the proposed three-day agitation which was scheduled to be held form July 18-20.
“The Core Committee will keep the agitation in suspended animation and meet on July 18 to discuss further course of action,” a circular issued by Core Committee co-convenor Dr. Kheshito Zhimo stated.
Dr. Zhimo said the committee also decided to suspend the agitation in view of the withdrawal of Tuensang, Noklak and Shamator NIDA units from the proposed agitation and also based on the request of the Health & Family Welfare minister to not disturb the Presidential Election slated to be held on July 18.
It may be mentioned that NIDA on July 11 announced a three-day agitation in the form of delivering only emergency services followed by total shutdown of all health centres through cease work for an indefinite period from July 21, if they failed to receive any positive response from the State government.
NIDA said it had written to principal secretary health & family welfare on April 26 and chief minister on June 10, with a request to review the cabinet decision on the superannuation issue. In the letter, NIDA expressed its opposition and inability to accept the decision of the cabinet to raise the superannuation age of all the doctors from 60 to 62 years, through “re-employment”.