Government Employees including Defence Civilian Employees, Railway men and others are forced to work even during these pandemic days, since they are the backbone of the Government machinery. Working in the frontline to keep the movement of the people and goods throughout the Country, to keep the Defence preparedness impact throughout the COVID-19 pandemic period. During this national task thousands of Government employees have lost their life. They lost their life serving the nation, but their families are in deep distress. The bread winner of the family and the loved ones are no more. Now the family of these employees are asking their Trade Unions whether anything was done by the Government to protect their loved ones.
In 2020 also many Government employees lost their life. The Government knows the danger of second wave of the COVID-19 virus, but nothing has been done including free vaccination to the Government employees. The families are rightly blaming the Government. The family says that many employees fell ill during the second wave when medical infrastructure is over burdened, leading the employees and their families to the lurch. They says that if we have got a hospital bed with oxygen, with the required treatment in time our bread winner must have been saved. Many of them are already co-morbidities cases, but they were not exempted from duty on different pretext. Another family complaint that after discharge from hospital the bread winner was affected by Black Fungus. Subsequently, he had silent heart attack and collapsed.
Families of Government employees are sharing such type of horrible experiences. They are the worst affected. The Trade Unions of Central Government Employees are repeatedly representing to the Government to provide free vaccine, ex-gratia compensation, out of turn compassionate appointment etc. But all these appeals have gone to the deaf ears.
Government should understand that there is an unexpected loss of the bread winner. Many died are of the age group between 30 to 50 and have not settled in life. The employees and their families are in shock and panicky. Many have gone to depression. Trade Unions with their limited infrastructure and resources are trying to help these families and counseling them. The employees are highly dejected and suffering from anxiety and fear.
TATA Steel has come with an announcement that if their employee dies due to COVID-19, the family will be paid salary till the deceased’s retirement age. The monthly salary would be the same as the last salary which the person drew before his demise. The Company would also provide Medical Benefits and residential facility. The TATA would also take care of the expenses of the education of the children of their deceased employees. The TATA Steel Company has further announced that the TATA Steel Family stands stoically with all its people committed to their security and well being. If a private corporate like TATA Steel Company can come out with such a gesture to its employees who died in COVID-19 virus infection, what prevent the Government of India to consider the following demands of the Central Government Employees submitted through the Staff
Side of the National Council (JCM).
a) Free vaccination to all Central Government Employees and their dependents.
b) Full reimbursement of COVID-19 Medical Treatment expenditure.
c) Quarantine leave for the employees tested COVID-19 positive and are under treatment and home quarantine.
d) Ex-gratia payment / compensation to the dependents of the COVID-19 victims who succumbed to death.
e) Out of turn compassionate appointment to the dependent of the COVID-19 victims who succumbed to death.
Government is not only supposed to be a modal employer but should always remain as a good employer, but unfortunately the present Government is totally ignoring the Government employees by even freezing their Dearness Allowance for 18 Months. Even their Pension right is taken away. Now at least the Government should come forward to take care of the welfare of its employees and the well being of the families of the employees who succumbed to death after the COVID-19 virus infection. If TATA can do it, why can’t Government of India do it ? Government is answerable for this question.
Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF and Standing Committee Member of National Council (JCM) for Central Government Employees