Only the general OPDs and fever clinics were closed, while the speciality wards remained open to ensure no case of emergency was left unattended.

Kerala nurse strike OPDs shut in 14 private hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram
news Health Tuesday, June 05, 2018 - 15:44

The Outpatient Department in 14 private hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram did not function on Monday in response to the nurses’ strike called by the United Nurses Association (UNA). The Thiruvananthapuram Hospitals Coordination Council (THCC) had asked hospitals to not open their OPDs on Monday.

UNA has been at the forefront of the nurses’ movement to make sure they are paid their minimum wages as stipulated by the government.

The Kerala government had issued a notification on April 24 regarding the pay hike of the nurses and other staff working in private hospitals in Kerala.

The notification states that the minimum wage for nurses and lab technicians is Rs 20,000 and that for other staff, including hospital attendants, is Rs 16,000.

According to Siby Mukesh, Vice President of UNA, Kerala chapter, the minimum wage notification is an outcome of a series of strikes and appeals by the organisation since February 2015.

In spite of the government issuing the notification, private hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram did not implement it. UNA thus issued a notice on May 15 to six major private hospitals to implement the government order on minimum wages. To ensure the matter is taken up seriously, UNA launched a strike on May 29.

Mediatory talks convened by the Labour Commissioner have been going on since then.

On May 29, Cosmopolitan Hospital agreed to implement the order and on June 2, KIMS, Ananathapuri and PRS Hospitals followed suit.

“We have never stayed away from work in any of these hospitals. When we say strike, we only had those nursing staff, who are not on duty, sit in front of the hospitals in the pandal erected for the strike,” said Siby.

He added “The private hospitals told us that we are causing disturbances by putting up the strike pandal in front. Till date, we have never stayed away from our work or refused to attend to patients. The on-duty nurses always ensured the work was done.”

A press release issued on Sunday by THCC  said, “Those who have called for the strike are putting the lives of patients in danger. There is no doubt that the employees working in hospitals need to have better salaries. For this, discussions need to be conducted, considering the economic situation of the hospitals.”

To this, Siby said, “Speciality OPDs were all functional. It was only the general OPD and fever clinics that were non-functional. This is their tactic to exert pressure on the government and to portray us, the nurses, in a negative light to the public.”

On June 4, following the mediatory talks convened by the Labour Commissioner, SUT Pattom Hospital too agreed to implement the minimum wages. As of now, of the six hospitals to which UNA had issued the notice earlier, SK Hospital alone is left to implement the order.

The Labour Commissioner said that since the wage revision is under the consideration of the court, both the parties have agreed that a decision on the same will be taken after the court’s final verdict.

Further talks by both parties will happen on Tuesday afternoon with the Labour Commissioner.

About extending the strikes Siby said, “These six hospitals are the major private hospitals here. There are other private hospitals too in and around Thiruvananthapuram. Once the SK Hospital issue is sorted out, we will soon start our strike in these hospitals.”

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.