"When every man was for himself in the peak hours of the Covid outbreak, we came forward to serve the port people, ignoring the risks to our lives. We left our families and stayed in the hospital day after day. Today we have been fired from our jobs on one day's notice," Hamida Akter Mousumi lamented while talking to The Business Standard in front of Chattogram Press Club on Tuesday.
"We sacrificed for humanity, but today we have been thrown out in inhumane manner," the sacked nurse said, as she took part in a human chain programme.
Mousumi is among 120 nurses, technologists, ward boys and cleaners who were appointed to the dedicated Covid-19 unit of Chattogram Port Hospital on 24 June 2020 on a temporary basis.
The port authorities, in a sudden notice, terminated all of them on Tuesday. In protest, the sacked employees formed the human chain. Many could not hold back their tears at the time.
"During the life-threatening time of the Covid pandemic, I risked my life to protect the officials of Chattogram port. We were assured at the time of appointment that we would be employed within the port once the pandemic situation improved, but it has not happened. We have been made helpless," said Md Helal, who has been working as a ward boy at the hospital.
"Corona patients are still coming to the hospital but the port authorities force them to go back home."
"The port authorities are now hiring people for 1,000 vacant posts in its different sections. We want the employees of the Covid unit to be reinstated in these vacant posts. If this is not done, we will have no option but to be on the streets with our families," he added.
Many others also echoed his sentiments. "With the pandemic easing and a decreased number of patients at the hospital, the port officials used ward boys and nurses for their personal work. We were even treated as house servants. We have done everything in the hope that we would be appointed somewhere on a permanent basis," terminated cleaner Runa Mallik said.
When contacted, Chattogram Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral M Shahjahan told The Business Standard that the sacked employees had been on a temporary basis.
"As they have no work now, they have been told that they are no longer needed."
Mentioning that the sacked employees are defaming the port, M Shahjahan said, "If they need jobs they should come to us. Forming a human chain in front of the Press Club cannot help them get jobs." ***