THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Patient care activities in private and cooperative hospitals were affected following the 24-hour strike called by nearly 50,000 nurses under the banner of United Nurses Association (UNA) on Thursday. The striking nurses blocked the main highway in Cherthala for several hours. The main demand of the nurses is settlement of 180 day strike of nurses in KEM Hospital Cherthala and implementation of revised wages in private hospitals.
UNA state president Jasminsha said UNA would launch an indefinite strike in all private hospitals if the government failed to accept their demands. He said the UNA would also field a candidate in the forthcoming Chengannur by poll to show its strength.
He said despite such a large number of nurses being on strike, the UNA has ensured that emergency services are not affected. “Many of our members are carrying out emergency duties. However, if the government and managements continue with their indifferent attitude towards our demands then we will be forced to shed our humanitarian approach,” he said. The UNA leader said the indefinite fast by United Nurses Association state general secretary Sujana Pal at Cherthala had entered the sixth day and his health condition was worsening. “Not a single authority has come to us so far. There are four ministers from the district, there is an MP, MLAs and district administration. But nobody seems to be bothered about our plight,” Jasminsha said threatening to launch an indefinite agitation.
The UNA said despite the assurance given by the chief minister in July 2017, the private managements were resorting to vindictive action. It criticised the delay in implementing revised salary finalised by Minimum Wages Committee more than three months ago. As per the decision, nurses working in private hospitals were entitled to a hike ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 17,000 across all categories.
Protest paralyses traffic on NH
The nurses under the banner of United Nurses Association (UNA) held a protest on Thursday declaring solidarity with the striking nurses of KVM hospital, Cherthala. Thousands of nurses from across the state took out a march in front of the hospital, where UNA state general secretary Sujanapal Achuthan has been staging an indefinite hunger strike since Friday last. The march was inaugurated by UNA state president Jasminsha. For the past 178 days, 113 nursing staff have been staging an indefinite strike and dharna in front of the hospital demanding better pay and working conditions, implementation of three shift system and reinstatement of two of their colleagues sacked by the hospital management “If the issue is not resolved, the nurses will launch an indefinite strike in all private sector hospitals in the state,” said Bibin N. Paul, state treasurer, UNA.
He also said that the UNA was planning to field a candidate in the Chengannur bypoll. Traffic along the National Highway was thrown out of gear for several hours in the morning. The protesters later partially blocked the NH demanding the immediate intervention by district collector T.V. Anupama. The siege was ended after the collector spoke with UNA office-bearers and promised to bring the issue before the government. The traffic returned to normal by evening.
Dr. V.V. Haridas, director, KVM hospital, said that the strike was illegal.
“Our hospital is providing minimum wages to all our employees through Wage Protection Scheme (WPS) via the labour office. We provide benefits like ESI and PF. The hospital is functioning with three shift duties to provide 24-hour care to our patients. The UNA with its ulterior motives is conducting a paid strike in KVM. They have unlawfully blocked the smooth functioning of the hospital. The UNA has created an obnoxious and appalling situation in front of the gate of KVM hospital and has prevented many patients from coming to the hospital for treatment. Many emergency patients with life-threatening diseases were not able to avail of treatment at the hospital,” Dr. Haridas said. Dr. Haridas also said that the management had expressed its willingness to reinstate innocent nurses after the completion of the domestic inquiry but not those found guilty....