‘Govt trying to sabotage SC directive’: Kerala nurses up in arms over pay revision

The nurses warn that they would boycott work from April 24 if the govt fails to issues notification in this regard.  
‘Govt trying to sabotage SC directive’: Kerala nurses up in arms over pay revision
‘Govt trying to sabotage SC directive’: Kerala nurses up in arms over pay revision
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United Nurses Association - the largest organisation of nurses employed with private hospitals in Kerala, is again up in arms with the government for not issuing order regarding the pay hike as promised in July 2017.

The nurses have been staging a symbolic strike in front of the Secretariat since Tuesday. They plan to go for a protest by boycotting work from April 24, if the government fails to issue the order. As the order is yet to be issued, the nurses haven’t received the revised salary based on the consensus reached between them and the government in July 2017.

“As per the Minimum Wages Act 1948, there are a lot of technical procedures for a pay revision to finally come into effect. In our case, the Minimum Wages Committee has submitted the recommendations to the government. We have given the government ample time to come out with draft notification based on that, but the government hasn’t moved a step forward. By delaying this, the government is trying to sabotage the Supreme Court directive of ensuring minimum wages,” Siby Mukesh State Vice President of UNA told TNM.

Also, the Committee in its recommendations of pay hike has reduced the allowance which would effectively nullify the pay revision. “In the Committee, there are no representatives of the nurses. Our gross salary is basic pay plus allowance. The committee recommended to reduce allowance of nurses from 10,000 to 8,000 and that of other staff from 6,400 to 4,000. The government should show the determination to do away with these recommendations and come out with notification to implement the salary revision which is favourable for the nurses and which is as per the SC directive,” Siby said.

The nurses protest in June and July 2017 had paralysed the health sector in the state as the private hospitals were forced to restrict their operations. The strike was spearheaded by UNA, which has as many as one lakh nurses associated with it and the Indian Nurses Association.

The strike was called off after discussion with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, following the protest that lasted for almost two months. The government had then agreed to hike the basic pay to Rs 20,000. “It has been decided to hike the basic pay of nurses who are working in hospitals with a bed strength of up to 50 to Rs 20,000. The government will appoint a committee to decide on the salary of nurses working in hospitals where the number of beds are more than 50," a statement from the Chief Minister's office had said.

Nurses working in the private sector have been struggling for long to get decent wages.

In April 2013, the government had reached an agreement with private sector hospitals to revise the pay structure of nurses by 25 to 35% following a series of protests by nurses working in various  hospitals. The deal was signed on the basis of recommendations of a committee set up by the government to study the issue. The agreement was that nurses of hospitals having up to 100 beds will get a salary hike of 35%. For those working in hospitals with a capacity of up to 25 beds, they were entitled to get a 25% increase.

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