Kerala: 50,000 nurses on strike block Alappuzhavyttila NH stretch for eight hours demanding revised wages implementation
Their main demand was to resolve the ongoing 178-day-old agitation by the nurses of KVM Hospital at Cherthala in Alappuzha district seeking the implementation of minimum wages.
ALAPPUZHA: In a show of strength unlike most others witnessed in recent times, nearly half a lakh nurses under the banner of the United Nurses Association(UNA) gathered on the National Highway 66 at Cherthala on Thursday to express solidarity with their counterparts staging an indefinite stir at the KVM Multi Specialty Hospital here. The sea of humanity which descended on the streets resulted in vehicles getting stranded on the NH for eight hours. Though the revenue authorities and the police tried to pacify the nurses, they were in no mood to heed them. Instead, the protesters demanded District Collector T V Anupama should meet them at the protest venue. It was only after the Collector spoke to the protesters the road blockade finally ended by 6.30 pm.
The Collector has since submitted a report to the state government demanding urgent intervention in the matter. “If the issue is not successfully resolved, the nurses working in the private sector will launch an indefinite strike statewide ,” said UNA state treasurer Bibin N Paul. He also indicated the UNA might well put up a candidate for the Chengannur bypoll. The 113 nursing staff of KVM Hospital have been on an indefinite strike and sit-in in front of the hospital for the last 179 days. According to the nurses, the hospital has not been paying even the minimum wages announced in 2013. The working hours often extended to 10 hours during day shift and 14 hours at night. Most of the nurses were not eligible for the PF, ESI and other benefits and were often fired for silly reasons, they said.
Although several rounds of conciliatory talks had been brokered by the government , it had failed to break the deadlock. Following the failure of the latest round of talks held on February 8, the KVM management said it will not participate in any further talks with the UNA. Dr V V Haridas, director and Chief Medical Officer of the hospital, said the indefinite strike being staged by the nurses under the aegis of the UNA in front of the hospital is illegal. “The UNA has been spreading falsehoods about the hospital. The management has no option but to keep away from the talks, until and unless a peaceful atmosphere is created by withdrawing the protest in front of the hospital,” he said.
HC query to government
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the state government to inform the court whether it has issued any notification declaring hospital services as public utility service under the Industrial Dispute Act. The court issued the order on the petition filed by A Sathyan, secretary, Forum for Social justice, seeking to prohibit the strike announced by the nurses association across the state. The petitioner submitted the strike announced by the United Nurses Association (UNA) will directly affect the public at large. If the nurses go on strike as announced, critical care to those severely ill will be affected.
Also, life-saving surgeries and other planned medical procedures will be hit. The stir has been announced without contemplating adequate alternate measures which could be made available to the in-patient, intensive care units and casualty of the hospitals, the plea stated. The petitioner also sought a directive to prohibit the strike by exercising its powers under Section 3 of the Kerala Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1994.
‘Striking nurses to face action’
KOCHI: The nurses who took part in the United Nurses Association(UNA)-sponsored strike will indeed face disciplinary action, according to the Kerala Private Hospitals’ Association(KPHA) which termed the strike ‘unlawful’. As per the High Court order, a notice should be submitted 15 days prior to the strike. At several hospitals, the nurses had issued notice to the managements barely three days ago. In Thrissur alone, 1,500 nurses took part in the strike while in Kozhikode the protesters numbered 800. “We will issue show- cause notice and proceed with further disciplinary action. The strike did not make much of an impact in the other districts,” Dr Mohammed Rashid, KPHA president, told Express. According to a KPHA release, “The lack of nurses, seriously affected the functioning of the hospitals. The hospital managements couldn’t provide proper treatment and care to the patients including those in the emergency wing”.