BENGALURU: BJP leaders, led by former ministers Suresh Kumar, Kota Srinivasa Poojary and V Somanna, staged a dharna in front of Health Minister U T Khader’s office demanding the payment of a minimum salary of `16,750 per month to staff nurses working on a contract basis.
BJP legislators, including Anuradha Tara, D S Veeraiah, Ravi Subramanya, Krishna Bhat and Narayanaswamy, squatted in front of Khader’s office in the Vikasa Soudha and urged the government to concede their demands.
Poojary said there are about 3,500 staff nurses working in the Health Department on a contract basis. They are being exploited by the state government, which is paying them salaries below even the minimum salary fixed under the Guarantee of Minimum Wages Act, he said.
Maintaining that the previous BJP government had taken a decision to regularise the staff nurses’ services, he alleged that “the Congress government had failed to take the issue forward”. Former law minister Suresh Kumar criticised the government for not implementing the Cabinet decision to regularise their services taken during the BJP’s tenure.
The agitating legislators also took strong objection to the minister choosing to stay away and avoid a meeting with them. However, senior Health Department officers, including Commissioner P S Vasthrad, met the legislators.
The officials tried to convince the legislators to withdraw their stir, saying the department would pay `10,000 per month to 16 staff nurses. This is the salary being paid to another group of over 3,500 staff nurses working under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) programme. “The 16 staff nurses, who had refused to join the NRHM salary scale, are still continuing under the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) programme that had long been abolished. All the other staff nurses who are on contract would receive `10,000 per month under the NRHM scheme,” the officials said. “The enhanced wages would come into force from July 1,” the officers said.
Agitating BJP legislators will now take their dharna to the Suvarna Soudha in Belagavi, where the legislature session is starting on June 29.
They plan to raise the issue in both the Houses.