KANNUR: “The hospital administration of private hospitals are looting us,” the Indian Nurses Association (INA) President Libin Thomas told Express. “We are being exploited. We cannot stand it anymore. No nurses should suffer from now on. This is why we are protesting.”
He seemed determined and so are the 700 nurses part of the agitation.
The strike called by INA in five private hospitals in the district demanding a hike in their salary as per the Supreme Court ruling is progressing on the 12th day.
The association members are to hold a meeting with Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan and Labour Commissioner on Monday.
“Our demands are clear. We want a revision of pay as per the apex court’s direction. We are determined to fight. We will win too,” said Thomas.
The association has decided to extend their protest to 60 more hospitals if Monday’s meeting fails to meet their demands. “We will intensify our protest if the meeting yields no result. About 10,000 nurses from various hospitals will join us,” he added.
The conditions of the nurses in most of the private hospitals are pathetic. They are not only paid a pittance by the managements but are also denied allowances and other benefits. Some are even exploited.
“I know nurses who work for more than 14 hours a day,”said K Athira, a nurse. “They are paid less than `12,000. In some hospitals they have to remit `4,000 or `5,000 back. The salary drawn is `12,000 on paper but it is less than `8,000 in reality.”
Functioning of five private hospitals - Koyili, Dhanalakshmi, Ashirvad, Speciality and Lourde - has been interrupted. Most of them have restricted admission of patients.
The association has offered service of nurses at dialysis and MICU units. Arrangements are made to meet emergency calls too. But some of the hospitals have deployed nursing students in disguise to meet the requirements. The association members allege the administration is risking the lives of the patients. With the agitation at these hospitals progressing for the 12th day, some of the hospital managements have come forward to hold discussions with the protesters.
“Some of the managements have approached us for reconciliation. They have agreed to revise the pay. But we are not ready for individual settlements. We are a collective group and benefits of this protest should reach all of us,” Thomas said.