KOCHI: The long-drawn battle waged by nurses for better pay is likely to come to an end with the final meeting of the Industrial Relations Committee (IRC) in the capital on Thursday expected to give a green signal to the pay hike approved by the government in July. The meeting will also discuss the suggestions put forward by the Labour Commission regarding the pay hike demanded by trade unions for non-nursing staff. Though the hospital managements have expressed their dissent on the wage hike, the nurses are hopeful of a favourable decision in the meet.
“The government has promised us a basic pay of Rs 20,000. We were given assurance the minimum wage won’t be changed from the promised scale. We are hopeful of a final decision by November,” said Jasmin Sha, president of United Nurses Association.The IRC was formed to take a final decision regarding the pay scale of nurses in the private sector. The IRC consists of 13 hospital representatives and 13 members from various nurses’ associations and trade unions, besides the labour officer.
“We expect the government to directly issue the order on the pay hike. In that case, all the hospitals will be bound to give the proposed basic pay,” said Liju Vengal, president, Indian Nurses Association (INA).
Following a month-long protest by the nurses in July, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan interfered and promised the nurses a minimum wage of Rs 20,000 per month. The experienced nurses were promised a salary as recommended by the IRC committee.
Though the committee had held a meeting in September, no decision could be taken as the hospital authorities refused to accept the nurses’ demands. In the meeting, the trade unions also demanded a pay hike for non-nursing staff. Following this, the Labour Commission asked the hospital representatives to present a pay scale at the next meeting.Meanwhile, there has been speculation the nurses might go on strike again. However, it is said the strike might not generate the same response as in the earlier agitation. However, both unions are well-prepared to go on strike, if necessary.
“We are forming hospital and area-level committees involving the families of the nurses. This will help us put up a united fight towards achieving our collective goal and also help the families understand the importance of the demands,” said Jasmin Sha.Asked about the demands put forward by trade unions, Jasmin Sha said: “The non-nursing staff are just like us. We think their demand for pay hike is justifiable.”