Kerala nurses’ strike over pay intensifies pay spreads in
TRIVANDRUM - The struggle by nurses in Kerala, the granary of nursing in India, for better salary and service conditions has gained momentum with several organisations coming forward to support the nurses.
While the State Women’s Commission has offered to intervene in favour of the nurses, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the trade union wing of ruling Congress has come forward to take up the struggle.
Nurses in three hospitals in the state are already on strike while the nurses association has served notices on five other hospitals. The strike by the nurses at Lakeshore Hospital in Cochin and MOSC Medical College at Kolencherry has hit the patient care.
The high court on Wednesday ordered police protection to the Lakeshore hospital on a petition by the hospital management. The petition has sought declaration of the strike launched by the nurses since Monday illegal. The court has issued notice to the nurses association in this connection.
The strike by the nurses in the hospital gained strength with the head nurses joining the strike on Wednesday. Activists of the People’s Democratic Party took out a march to the hospital expressing solidarity with the striking nurses.
The functioning of the MOSC Medical College remained paralysed since Saturday, when 600 nurses went on an indefinite strike. Nurses at the National Hospital at Calicut have sent a warning signal to the management by going on a taken strike on Wednesday.
Nurses’ leaders said they would launch an indefinite strike if the hospital management did not accept their demands. The hospitals, which have been served notices by the nurses association, include St James Hospital, Trichur, Baby Memorial Hospital, Calicut, K V M Hospital, Cherthala, Al Shifa Hospital, Pathanamthitta and Gokulam Hospital, Trivandrum.
State Women’s Commission member T Devi said that the demands raised by the nurses were genuine. “We have full sympathy with the nurses. If they lodge a complaint with the commission we will certainly intervene in the matter”, she added.
The support of the INTUC was extended to the nurses by Bindhu Krishna, president of the Mahila Congress, the women’s wing of the ruling Congress party. She alleged that the striking nurses were being tortured by the hospital managements.
“We will not allow anybody to harm the nurses, who are spearheading a struggle for just causes. If necessary the INTUC will directly take up the leadership of the agitation”, she added.
The nurses in the state resorted to agitation in the wake of strikes by nurses, mostly from Kerala, in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Nurses had not raised their voice earlier as they were disorganized. The uprising in the metros encouraged them to come under the banner of the United Nurses Association.
The association, which was formed two months ago, has now branches in 432 hospitals across the state. It is spreading its wings fast to other hospitals also. Association leader M Jasmineisha said several hospitals had improved the conditions of the nurses following the advent of the association.
Jasmineisha said that the association hoped to bring significant changes in the salaries of nurses in all hospitals across the state within six months. State Labour Minister Shibhu Baby John has also indicated a revision in the minimum wages for the nurses.
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