The Kerala High Court on Friday directed private hospital managements to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against nurses who have protesting in the state since June.
Thousands of nurses have been seeking better wages and have also announced that they will launch an indefinite strike from July 17 if their demands are not met.
The High Court, which was hearing a petition filed by an association of private hospital managements, stated that nurses were playing with the lives of people through their protests.
However, the United Nurses Association (UNA), that has been at the forefront of the protest, maintained that they will not end the strike till their demands are met.
UNA state president Jasmine Shah told the media that they were ready to face action but they wonâ€™t withdraw the decision to strike.
On Thursday, private managements running hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram said that the medical services provided by them will be limited from Monday.
Only emergency departments will be functional and the functioning of the rest will depend on the availability of nurses.
They held the view that meeting the main demand of the nurses, i.e. to increase the basic pay to Rs 20,000, is not possible.
â€śWe will eventually be forced to pass the burden to patients if we hike the wages as demanded by the nurses,â€ť representatives of Association of Healthcare Providers India had said in a press meet on Thursday.
Thousands of nurses united under UNA and the Indian Nurses Association have been protesting since June demanding a hike in their basic pay.
The governmentâ€™s Industrial Relations Committee on Monday fixed the salary of the nurses based on the bed strength of hospitals, but the demand to fix basic pay at Rs 20,000 for all categories of hospitals was not addressed.