The High Court’s direction to invoke ESMA (Essential Services Maintenanace Act), against the striking nurses in the State, has only helped the nurses strengthen their strike, says Indian Nurses Association which leads the strike in the State. “ESMA is a barbaric Act and has very rarely been invoked. To invoke such a law against the nurses who have long been suffering is nothing but a sheer act of cruely,” they said.
Nurses working in private hospitals have been striking under the aegis of the association since June last demanding implementation of Supreme Court Order, issued in September, 2016, which directs the State governments to ensure minimum wage of Rs. 20, 000 for a qualified nurse working in private sector. The order came as a respite to the nursing community who have long been underpaid all across India. It is the first time in the history of the State the nursing community engage in such a massive strike demanding wage increment.
The association leaders allege that the Court order clearly signaled that the Government tried to safeguard the interests of the management instead of taking steps to resolve the nurses’ issues. INA leaders had met the Minister of Labour and Excise T P Ramakrishnan at his cabin on July 4, and the Minister had assured helpful action from the part of the Government regarding their demands. The Government had asked the nurses to wait until July 10. An Industrial Relations Committee meeting for the private sector hospitals was held on the day and the association allege that nothing positive for the nurses came out of the meeting.