1.5 lakh nurses from across Kerala threaten to join strike in Thrissur, demand wage revision

 A majority of about 1.5 lakh nurses working in various hospitals in Kerala are threatening to join the ongoing strike that began in Thrissur and later spread to other places at a time when Kerala shi

Published: 07th July 2017 08:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2017 11:13 AM   |  A+A-

(Inputs from Prabhat Nair, T’Puram and Abhilash Chandran, Kottayam)

Express News Service

THRISSUR: A majority of about 1.5 lakh nurses working in various hospitals in Kerala are threatening to join the ongoing strike that began in Thrissur and later spread to other places at a time when Kerala shivers from an assortment of fever. 

Things have come to such a pass as nurses have been paid a pittance for many years, ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000. This, after they spent up to Rs 4 lakh to finish their course and are straightway burdened with the EMI spectre where the monthly outgo is often more than what they earn. (For a Rs 4-lakh loan, around Rs 5,000 will be the EMI). All they are asking for is a monthly salary of Rs 20,000 which is less than what a last grade employee in the government sector earns. 

At the entry level, a bulk of them earn anywhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 and, after the training period Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000. Most of them earn below Rs 20,000 even after putting in over 10 years of service. 

When the token strike started in Thrissur on June 17, the salary of the nurses at Daya Hospital at Thrissur was Rs 10,000. The strike was called off a day later at the hospital as the salaries were revised upwards to Rs 17,000. But in other hospitals the nurses are still on strike as their salaries remain what it was about a month ago. In fact, the Christian institutions which run a bulk of the hospitals in the state set the ground for the nursing community to raise a banner of revolt. 

Ruling out any compromise on their demands, nurses working in hospitals managed by the Catholic Church on Thursday rejected the decision taken by the Labour Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) to revise their pay scales. The KCBC Labour Commission meet the other day had decided to revise the nurses’ pay scale and announced the formation of an 11-member committee to frame the pay scale.

Aneesh Mathew Vernani, a nurse at Jubilee Mission Hospital in Thrissur and vice-president of the United Nurses’ Association (UNA), said they would not stop protesting until all their demands were met. 
He said the minimum wages should be provided as per the recommendations of the committee constituted by the Supreme Court. 

“The Balaraman Committee and Veerakumar panel conducted extensive study on the matter. It is up to the government to implement their recommendations,” he said. “We do not want another committee by the Catholic Church to decide our pay scale,” he said. He said the strength of nurses, especially of male nurses, had not been increased while the total strength had drastically decreased in hospitals ever since the nurses raised their demands. 

Lini A J, Aneesh’s co-worker, says “I have spent over Rs 4 lakh to complete my BSc Nursing course. My dad sold his land to meet the education expenses. I only wish to pay him back the money.” “Many others are having trouble in repaying their education loans even after several years. How can they repay the loan, take care of their family and meet daily expenses on their paltry income?” she asks. 

“The members of the Indian Nurses Association (INA) are holding a strike in seven hospitals in Kannur demanding wage revision. We will not relent unless the hospital managements accept the Supreme Court order,” said INA national president Vengal Lijo. “If the private hospital managements won’t settle the issue before July 10, we will extend the strike to other parts of the district,” he said.


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