Kochi: Over three lakh nurses working at private hospitals in the state are on a warpath again with a majority of the hospitals not implementing the government notification of November 5, 2013, on revised minimum wages. United Nurses Association (UNA), the largest organization of nurses in the state, claimed that 75 percent of the hospitals had not met the government deadline of
December 31, 2013 for its implementation. Even the 25 per cent of hospitals that implemented it did so by showing reduced bed strength to deny the paramedical staff the full benefit of the wage hike, the association alleged.
The UNA on Friday also decided to contest six Lok Sabha seats in central Kerala in the coming polls to register “its protest against the continued apathy on the part of the government in implementing the notification.” The Lok Sabha seats are Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Chalakkudy.
“We don’t expect to win any of the seats. This is to register our protest. Each of these constituencies has over 25,000 nurses’ families and we will use the polls to show our strength,” said Jasmin Sha M, state president of UNA.
According to him, the UNA was forced to resume its agitation as the UDF government failed to implement the notification. The UNA had already launched an agitation at CRAFT Hospital, Kodungallur and Amritha Hospital, Kochi, to protest the dismissal of nurses “on flimsy grounds” and violation of norms regarding trainee nurses.
“We will launch a strike across Thrissur district on February 12 to mark 100 days since the notification. The strike will be extended to Ernakulam and Malappuram districts later. By March end, the strike will cover all parts of Kerala,” Sha said. The revised minimum wages of nurses began with Rs 8,500 which was nearly Rs 2,000 more than the previous minimum wages. Hospitals were required to pay according to the number of beds with super specialty ones needing to pay higher.
Sha also alleged that labour minister Shibu Baby John failed to deliver promises and as a protest UNA would also contest against him in the next Assembly polls.
According to the UNA leader, though hospitals under Catholic Hospitals Association of India (CHAI) started giving revised minimum wages, many of them showed reduced bed strength.
Sources in the labour department said that as the fine for non-implementation of the minimum wages notification was just Rs 500, many of the hospital managements were not serious about its implementation. “If unions go for cases, it takes six to seven years for the labour courts to settle the matter,” said a labour officer. The managements still have the option of going in appeal before the high court and the Supreme Court.
Next: 30,000 nurses on loan defaulters’ list in state
30,000 nurses on loan defaulters’ list in state
Kochi: Nearly 30,000 nurses working in private hospitals in the state are facing revenue recovery (RR) proceedings for the education loans they failed to pay back. Though the state government recently declared a one-year moratorium on recovery proceedings, the banks may pounce on the nurses once this relief period is over.
“Most of the nurses still don’t know how to pay back the loans as their meager monthly earnings are not enough to pay even a single instalment,” said Jasmin Sha.M, state president of United Nurses Association.
It was following a representation by the UNA, that finance minister K.M. Mani took a decision to give a one-year moratorium. Many of these nurses took loans for their education hoping to get overseas jobs. But the drying up of the job market for them in the Gulf and European countries have put paid to their hopes.
Take the case of V.A. Jabeer of Wadakkancherry who despite having a job here had to leave for Dubai on a visitor’s visa as he could not repay the education loan. He took an educational loan of Rs 3.7 lakh in 2008 from Canara Bank and despite paying back Rs 1.5 lakh, he was told by the bank that he needed to pay Rs 6 lakh in 2012. After his appeal to the government, he was granted time to pay in 51 installments. But then he would need to repay Rs 13 lakh with interest.
Next: ‘Turf war behind strike move’
‘Turf war behind strike move’
Kochi: The labour ministry on Friday dismissed the strike call by the United Nurses Association (UNA) claiming that it was a result of the feud among various nurses’ unions.
“The labour department is ready to look into any issues connected with the implementation of minimum wages. There is also a committee to look into such grievances. The strike call is unwarranted as the UNA has not sought the help of the committee with any specific complaints,” said a spokesman at the office of labour minister Shibu Baby John.
Fr Shaiju Thoppil of the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) said that all hospitals under it had implemented minimum wages. “We started implementating it by April 2013 even before the revised notification. We also have not received any complaints from anyone regarding this,” he said.
According to Fr Thoppil, a 10-member sub-committee of the Industrial Relations Committee comprising five members each of the managements and labour unions had been constituted to take care of such complaints. “This sub-committee has the power to inspect hospitals and check complaints regarding bed strength. This panel too has not received any complaints so far”, he said.