KOCHI: At a time when the medical fraternity is striving hard, sacrificing their personal safety to save the state from the Coronavirus outbreak, many private hospitals are mercilessly cutting the salary of hospital staff, including nurses. Though the government had fixed the minimum salary for the nurses years ago, a majority of the hospitals are yet to implement it and the decision to make a 20 to 50 per cent cut in their meagre earnings has come as a shocker to nurses who are striving hard to make ends meet.
Usha Devi, president, Kerala Nurses and Midwives Council, said she has received information that nurses are facing many problems, including salary cut. “I have received many messages on my phone. The council has directed the nurses to send their grievances through mail. Without any document, we can’t take up the issue with the government,” she said.The council also received a complaint regarding the sacking of nurses and managements insisting that they go on leave for an indefinite period. Besides, the council sent a letter to the Health Department to ensure safety gear for the nurses on duty in private hospitals on April 2. There was an allegation that the nurses were not getting masks and personal protective equipment in private hospitals.
A hospital in the city has decided to withhold 25 per cent of the salary which will be released later. After the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of patients in the hospital has become very less and it is below 25 per cent. Hence, the hospital is facing a huge financial crisis. They also decided to withhold the special allowances, incentives and interim salary hike until further decision. Another private hospital informed its staff that it will credit only two-thirds of this month’s salary. The remaining portion will be credited in two monthly instalments once the hospital overcomes the crisis. Haris Manalampara, vice-president, United Nurses Association, said that the decision of the private hospitals was a violation of the directive issued by the prime minister and the chief minister of Kerala during this period.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Labour and Employment, New Delhi, in its directives to chief secretaries of the state clearly stated that the termination of an employee or reduction in wages in the scenario would deepen the crisis of employees and also affect their morale to fight this epidemic. Following this, the state also issued an advisory in this regard. The association said that though the government fixed a minimum salary of Rs 20,000, most of the hospitals were not implementing it. At present, a section of nurses only gets Rs 15,000 to Rs 18,000, while some are getting a maximum of Rs 23,000 to Rs 25,000. If this is the situation, the cutting of salary will badly affect the life of nurses in the state, said Haris.
Call to address nurses’ issues Kerala Nurses and
Midwives Council, Thiruvananthapuram, has sent a letter to the Additional Director General of Nursing Service seeking to take necessary steps to safeguard the Malayali nurses working in Covid-19 affected countries. In the letter sent on April 2, the council said that Kerala nurses working in various countries are facing certain issues at their workplaces.