Protesting the termination of 50 casual scavengers in the Malda Medical College and Hospital (MMCH), members of their association, the North Bengal Basfore and Harijan Welfare Organization Committee, staged a demonstration on the premises of the institution this morning. They halted all work in the morning, it is learnt.

A huge contingent of police reached the spot, but the protesters refused to give up until afternoon. MMCH authorities finally gave them verbal assurances and managed to convince the protesters and withdraw their demonstration.

It may be noted here that MMCH authorities asked 42 workers to stop working from 2 October, while they also allegedly did not serve them any prior notice of the termination. “Families members of the workers have been left high and dry in the face of the Durga Puja festival. The organisation also served a memo to the authorities on the 5th of this month, but no action was taken to address their demands, forcing them to demonstrate this morning,” a source said.

The workers alleged that the contractor under whom they worked in the MMCH for the last 10 years suddenly reduced the number of workers to 177 without any notice. “The contractor said they were able to manage the expenses of only these number of workers,” a member of the association said.

The general secretary of the organization, Labkumar Moulik, said, “The workers were asked to discontinue their jobs without any prior information and the MMCH authorities said that they would talk to the higher authorities. The sacked workers are in great suffering before the pujas, and if anything happens to anyone, the responsibility will solely lie on the MMCH.” According to the Medical superintendent and Vice-principal of the MMCH, Dr Amit Dawn, they have sent the workers’ demands to the higher authorities and that they should now return to work. “We are hoping for a speedy solution to this problem,” he said.