KOCHI: A day after the nurses rejected the offer of the private sector hospitals to adhere to the government directive on revised minimum wages, private hospital managements said any further increase in basic pay would put severe strain on their financial health.
The representatives of the managements hoped the government would not take a unilateral decision at the meeting on Thursday. They said more clarity would emerge on the issue after the meeting.
“The nursing community has some misconceptions about the salary structure. In the last meeting, a decision was arrived at only on the basic pay of general nurses. The revised salary of BSc nurses will be decided only on Thursday,” said Fr Thomas Vaikathuparambil, chairman, Confederation of Private Hospitals Associations (CPHA).
The Indian Nurses Association (INA) and the United Nurses Association (UNA) have been on the warpath demanding implementation of a minimum basic pay of `20,000 for nurses even in hospitals with less than 50 beds, as recommended by the Supreme Court-appointed Jagdish Prasad Committee.
The management representatives have clarified they are in no position to pay the nurses over and above the minimum basic pay of `17,200 proposed by the Minimum Wages Committee, which the nurses have outrightly rejected.
“Healthcare is a state subject. The government has a better pay scale from 2013, based on the recommendations of the Dr Balaraman Committee. The common man has to understand the economics of hospital business. There are 178 staff categories in hospitals and the nursing community, which constitutes around 45 per cent of the staff, tops the list,” said Dr Harish Pillai, president, Association of Healthcare providers of India- Kerala chapter.“We have to be rational while raising the demands as hospitals cannot survive without nurses and vice-versa,” said Fr Thomas Vaikathuparambil.
However, a section of the managements are in no mood to budge to the demands of the nursing committee, terming it a ‘stubborn’ stand. “Many of their demands cannot be met with. How can they ask for six-hour duty when eight hours is the universally-accepted time,” asked Dr P K Mohammed Rashid, president of the Kerala Private Hospitals Association(KPHA).
The managements also stated a high salary structure will result in the loss of employment as well as misery to the public. “We have to keep in mind 75 per cent of the 1,750 hospitals in the state are of medium type. Each city has a different economical set up. If the salary structure goes beyond this limit, many medium-level hospitals will be forced to close down,” said Hareesh Pillai.
CITU comes out against protest
Pamphlets in the name of CITU, the trade union of the CPM, were distributed in various protest tents decrying the strike. The pamphlets said the strike could not be justified as the government had accepted the nurses’ demand to fix the salary at D20,800. The nurses said their agitation was not a one-point strike. “The reality is the take-home salary comes to around D16,400,” he said. However, the Youth League and the Youth Congress had extended their support to the protest.
LDF meet seeks steps to end nurses’ stir
T’Puram: The Left Front has urged the state government to take immediate measures to resolve the ongoing nurses’ agitation. After the LDF meet on Monday, LDF convener Vaikom Viswan said the issues raised by the nurses would be addressed at the meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday. The LDF is of the view the nurses’ demands should be considered favourably, he said. “The government is not against the nurses’ demands. However, it should not be a strike for the sake of a strike,” Viswan said.
The LDF meet discussed the issue in detail and came out with the opinion the genuine issues should be addressed. “There are several bigger issues than minimum wages. Of course nurses should be paid minimum wages. But at the same time, there are issues like trainees not being given confirmation for a long time. Setting a standard is necessary,” Left sources said.