While the government is endorsing a proactive agenda of attracting investments to the state, the industrial atmosphere continues to be marred by strikes and disruptions.
The latest to join the causality list is the Comopolitan Hospital here, which is claimed to be the first multi-specialty hospital in the state.
The 30-year-old hospital has been witnessing frequent strikes and protests for the past several months, and now it has reached a critical stage with the unions threatening to disrupt the functioning of the hospital, if their demands are not met.
Already, the ambulance service of the hospital has been crippled by the strike and hired ambulances are being used for transportation now.
The latest among the protests was sparked off after a driver on probation was terminated from service after he allegedly refused to drive the hospital chairperson’s car into the parking lot.
While the management did not admit the reason behind not giving him job extension in the open, the office-bearers of employees unions said that the drivers were not happy about being demanded to perform ‘mean’ tasks assigned to them by some director board members.
The unions said that the main issues were the suspension of the driver and a false case filed by a woman employee against union office-bearers.
“A woman employee has filed a bogus harassment complaint to the police against four union members. We want the management to ask the employee to withdraw the case,” said K Vijayakumaran Nair, general secretary of the CITU-led Private Hospital Employees Union. However, the management has a different take on the issue.
“The management cannot involve in the issue as the woman has filed a case of harassment at work place. The Women Welfare Committee in the hospital has just forwarded the complaint to the police,” said hospital administrator Subhash.
Sources said that the woman had not joined a protest meeting organised by the unions some months ago. In retaliation, the unions put up a poster on the hospital wall with derogatory remarks against those who did not join the strike. When she tore it off, she was allegedly abused in her room by the protestors. Vijayakumaran Nair said that the complaint was baseless. “The unions have no role in the issue,” he said.
The strike is led by the CITU union and the INTUC-led Private Hospital Employees Congress. Nair said that if the demands of the unions were not met, the hospital’s functioning would be affected in the coming days. “The hospital was forced to extend minimum wage benefits to temporary employees after a token strike some months ago. That has prompted the hospital authorities to implicate a case against the union leaders,” he alleged. However, the management has refused to budge. “This hospital had implemented minimum wages around 10 years ago. We are paying all staff minimum wages prescribed by the government, ESI, PF and bonus. The management has decided not to entertain unnecessary demands,” Subhash said.