CHENNAI: Tension prevailed at the Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital in Omandurar Estate as the police had to forcefully remove more than 500 staff nurses protesting here on Tuesday. The nurses, recruited in 2015 through the Medical Recruitment Board (MRB) on a contract basis, staged the protest demanding job regularisation and salary hike.
In the scuffle between the protesters and cops, a few police personnel were injured. One policewoman suffered an injury to the head and was taken to the hospital. The nurses were later taken to custody and detained in the halls till late evening.
The protesters said 10,800 nurses were recruited in 2015 on a contractual basis, of which only 4,200 staff nurses were regularised. They want the rest of them to be regularised as well. The protest was led by the Tamil Nadu Government MRB Nurses Welfare Association.
Speaking to TNIE, S Muthu Kumar, a staff nurse, said the nurses joined in 2015 for a basic salary of Rs 7,700. After protests, the government hiked the salary to Rs 14,000 and later to Rs 18,000. But many staff nurses are yet to get the increment and still draw just Rs 14,000. The basic salary of a regular staff nurse is Rs 38,000.
M Asha, another staff nurse who came from Dindugal, said, “I even stopped feeding my child and did Covid duty. We don’t even get maternity leave. The government promised that all contract nurses will be regularised but it hasn’t fulfilled that promise yet. We have been toiling all day at primary health centres.”
“We don’t even get a day’s leave. If we ask for leave, superiors will tell us to do 48 hours of duty and then take leave. Even when doctors are not on duty, we take care of Primary Health Centres. We often double up as doctors, lab technicians and other staff,” said another nurse.
The nurses said, in many PHCs and government schemes, doctors, lab technicians and other workers’ posts are permanent, but only staff nurses are on contract. They also said the protest will continue till the health department assures to solve the issues.