KASARGOD: The CPM-controlled E K Nayanar Memorial Cooperative Hospital at Chengala here on Wednesday denied permission to the protesting nurses to pitch tent anywhere near the hospital or even across the highway, forcing them to sit in the open, exposed to the elements, and strike work.
The Indian Nurses Association (INA) said the workers who came to pitch the tent were threatened and chased away by the manager and other staff of the hospital. “They also shut the doors of the hostel rooms of nurses who took part in the strike,” said Ajeesh Chacko, district secretary of INA. The management reportedly told the nurses the hostel was not their ‘ancestral property’ and asked them to vacate the rooms if they participated in the protest, Chacko said. Nayanar Hospital reportedly told INA its nurses are being reasonably paid.
“But the nurses told me they were being paid only `8,000 to `11,000,” he said. The nurses later called in Women Cell CI Nirmala C V who persuaded the management to allow the nurses into the room and to allow peaceful protest. Across the district, around 800 nurses from 12 hospitals have joined the protest demanding higher salaries, slashing of long shifts, and better working conditions.
Chacko said in his earlier hospital he was paid only `10,000 when he had seven years’ experience. “Most of the hospitals had similar pay package. They have only one shift from 8 am till 7 pm,” he said. He said the nurses have come out in protest despite the management threatening to withhold experience and qualification certificates or give bad remarks. A popular private hospital in Kanhangad - that employs only women nurses - reportedly threatened the INA district secretary with physical assault if he turned up to give protest notice.
“But all 40 of its nurses have joined the strike and are staging a sit-in in front of the hospital,” he said.The nurses said the hospital deposits `12,000 each in their bank accounts and force them to return `4,000 in cash. He, however, said five protesting nurses will report for work in case of emergency. Next week, the hospital in Nileshwaram will also join the strike, Chacko said.
Meanwhile, six nurses of Aramana Fathima Hospital in Kasargod were expelled for taking part in the protest on Tuesday. They were also not served dinner.The INA took up the matter with the Kasargod town police, and the hospital’s manager and administrative officer were summoned to the station on Wednesday. The officials feigned ignorance of any such development and the women were taken back on Wednesday.