EMRI Workers’ Union protesting outside the GVK office in Shillong on Monday Credit: EastMojo image

Shillong: With several members of the Meghalaya Emergency Management and Research Institute Workers’ Union (MEMRIWU) falling ill, the union called off the indefinite hunger strike on Monday. The MEMRIWU have been on hunger strike for 14 days and on indefinite strike since October.

The voices demanding the termination of GVK in the state grew louder as the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) and Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) came in to support the union.

Demanding that the state government should immediately terminate GVK and, once removed, must clear all pending dues to the workers. Following this, state health minister AL Hek called the union for a meeting in the evening which lasted for a few hours.

MEMRIWU president Roypar Kharraswai said, “The government has agreed to terminate GVK, however, there was no assurance on job security. The government did not assure that if any new agency takes over then we would be given a job. But we feel that since we have been running for 11 years and we have given the best service and if the government just dismisses us then we condemn that. So we urge the government in any way to observe us if there will be any possibility. As a union, we will sit together and discuss what our next course of action is.”

However, health minister A L Hek said, “We are yet to come to a decision, the union will meet with its members and discuss and we will once again have a meeting together and decide.”

“The outcome of today’s meeting was not satisfactory. The charter of demands placed before the management was no more discussed since the management was clear with its stand that it was not possible to fulfill all the demands. The government has its own procedures to terminate GVK, to which a time of 15 days or 60 days will be given,” added Kharraswai.

During the day, the union was seen protesting outside the GVK office holding placards that read “Go back GVK”, “Hunger strike for justice”, “No service without job security” and many others.

FKJGP leader Eldie Lyngdoh said, “We met the management and we understand that this agitation by the workers is reaching nowhere because the management is not willing to listen despite the fact that their demands are quite genuine. We demand the government to immediately terminate the GVK EMRI and to bring in other agencies that are capable to run the emergency services in the state.”

Kharraswai also added that though the union has called off the hunger strike but they will adopt other strategies to further intensify their agitation.

MEMRIWU began the strike on September 30, agitating against lack of proper facilities, condition of ambulances and salary, among other problems; this had left the employees to resort to an indefinite strike.

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