Gangtok: Pharmaceutical companies in Sikkim and their workers have worked tirelessly to ensure that the supply of and demand for drugs across the country is met.
But, besides the noble act, there are also cases of COVID 19 coming up in these pharmaceutical companies, resulting in protests among the workers. Since the May 16 lockdown, no less than three companies have seen their employees demonstrate, questioning the security measures taken by the company.
Casual workers, mostly locals, have complained that despite workers testing positive, no safety measures are in place. Earlier this month, a pharmaceutical worker from Zydus Pharmaceutical Company pointed out, “My room partner developed symptoms but he was sent home, instead of to the hospital or an appropriate form of testing. In addition, the day he takes time off work due to COVID-related illness, he is marked absent and part of his salary is cut. We even lost our bus driver to COVID 19 on May 19, three days before he died, he was still working. He had come into contact with almost 400 employees and more because there is no bus reserved for workers, everyone takes the same bus at different times to reach their homes. But, the company refused to disinfect the buses, they denied having identified the main contacts. We demanded that the company be closed for a day to disinfect the entire premises, but even that did not happen ”.
In addition, the government of Sikkim initially claimed 50% of the workforce in pharmaceutical companies, but under pressure from the protest as well as from the company, it revoked the notification and said that the pharmaceutical companies must work to full capacity.
To reduce the spread, the State Department of Labor issued a notice on May 28, stating: “Pharmaceutical companies should, where possible, make arrangements for the accommodation of workers on the premises. of the company or, if this is not feasible, by renting out buildings or hotels. the locals, the residents. Companies should also create a dedicated covid care center for the care of COVID positive workers by converting corporate guesthouses or if this is not feasible, renting private buildings or hotels with a doctor. dedicated and paramedical support staff. The center should be well-equipped with an ambulance, oxygen cylinders, COVID 19 drugs, and immunity-boosting foods. In the event of a serious medical emergency, positive workers will be transferred to the STNM hospital and the central referral hospital ”.
Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay also supported the Labor Department’s decision. He said: “Pharmaceutical companies are seeing the spread of the virus, all the employees there or in the hydropower plants, are involved in essential work. They make drugs, which is why we went for 50% labor. But there was a lot of pressure because there is a huge demand and supply of medicines from Sikkim. Therefore, we overturned the decision to allow the workforce to reach its full capacity. Each pharmaceutical company must create its own COVID barracks, it must rent a building. In Mamring, which has many such businesses, there are employees in rented houses. The company has to take a building and from there it only has to go to the factory. Companies must guarantee tests and medication for their employees if they test positive. Our citizen must not be infected, as they spread over a wide area for residential purposes. They can declare their own containment zone, they must also create a COVID care center, they must operate the same with all drugs ”.
In addition, Sikkim CM also announced an increase of Rs 300 per day in additional pay for pharmaceutical companies.
For similar reasons, Sikkim’s chief minister also urged Melli Check Post officials to allow company workers to come to Sikkim, but only those involved in essential services. He said: “Local residents are also coming to Sikkim amid the lockdown of other states. They must be notified of home segregation, but non-locals will not be allowed. There are few companies and their employees have been authorized, including those involved in Sikkim Garib Awas Yojana, which is due to be completed by March 2022. They were able to relax. MGNREGA workers will also be allowed. But companies wishing to recruit employees must ensure the development of COVID care centers ”.