A day after the State Government gave nod to the demands of the private sector nurses who had been on strike for the past one month, leaders of the Indian Nurses Association (INA) said the victory is shared among all the nurses working in the country and the association will always be there to save the nursing community from any sort of exploitation. Hundreds of nurses working at various private hospitals in Kasargod and Kannur districts had been on strike since June 28 after the hospital managements declined to comply the Supreme Court (SC) order directing the State Governments to ensure a minimum of Rs 20,000 as monthly remuneration for a registered nurse working in the private hospital. With the association calling off the strike, the nurses have rejoined work at the respective hospitals on Friday.
The nurses have been facing severe exploitation by the hospital managements in various forms including meagre wages, unhygienic work environment and heavy workload. With the Government agreeing to the demands of the agitating nurses, Kerala has become the first State to implement the SC’s direction.
The nurses’ agitation in the State was spearheaded by the Indian Nurses Association which was formed in 2012. “This is a great achievement for all nurses and INA in particular. We have always been working for the welfare of each and every nurse and have been raising our concern regarding the wages, stipend and training in private hospitals. Most of the private hospitals in Kerala give training for newly-joined registered nurses for a period of around one year or more. The hospitals are totally on the wrong side in this matter. Nurses are skilled professionals just like an engineer or a doctor and it is unethical for the hospitals to train them for another year. The INA has always opposed this and will continue to fight against it,” said Mohammed Shihab E. A., state general secretary, INA.
He further said that even though the hospital managements tried to influence the Government, various other trade unions and public conscience, they could not succeed in their attempts because the nurses’ demands were justified.
Libin Thomas, state president, INA, attributed success of the strike to the nurses who had taken part and supported the strike held in front of the Secretariat and at various locations in Kannur and Kasargod districts. He went on to say that the media personnel who informed the public about the nurses’ strike without fail and representatives of various political parties who used to visit the striking nurses had also contributed greatly to the success.
Agreeing to the demands of the nurses, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had stated last day that nurses working in the private hospitals in the State were qualified and deserved better wages. As per the Government’s decision, nurses working in private hospitals with less than 50 beds will be earning a minimum of Rs 20,000. A committee comprising officials from various government departments has been formed to decide on the minimum wage for the nurses working in hospitals with more than 50 beds. The committee will also look into the matters regarding the stipend for the trainee nurses.
The nurses’ association has also demanded to strictly follow the three-shift system for the nurses, recommended by the Veerakumar Committee in 2013. Observing the difficulties the female nurses were facing in private hospitals, the committee had proposed three different shift timings which would considerably reduce the workload of the nurses. The committee had also pointed out that the nurses working in the night shift should be given four hours rest provided their service could be used in emergency situation during the rest time. Besides, the committee also recommended overtime allowances for the nurses.
Main photograph is a screengrab of a video via Asianet News.