Minimum wages still a dream for Kerala’s private hospital nurses

An agreement was signed in 2013 but none of the promises have been met till now.
Minimum wages still a dream for Kerala’s private hospital nurses
Minimum wages still a dream for Kerala’s private hospital nurses
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The functioning of private hospitals across Kerala could be paralysed from June 18, if the United Nurses Association decides to go ahead with an indefinite strike demanding minimum wages.

As many as one lakh nurses affiliated to the association working in various private hospitals in the state are expected to take part in the strike. The nurses say that they are forced to go for the strike as 90% of the hospitals didn’t follow the agreement signed in 2013 to end the protests at the time.

“At that time, protests were isolated and at a few hospitals only. But this time, the nurses of almost all the hospitals will take part in the strike. As per the agreement in 2013, we were promised salary hikes and also renewal of salary in 2016. But the hospital authorities have not made any revisions till now. We have been communicating with them since January, but they haven’t listened. We gave the notice the other day for the strike. The government has invited us for talks on Thursday. If that fails, we will go ahead with the decision,” state Association president Jasminsha told The News Minute.

According to him, at present 90% of the private hospital nurses who have graduated in General Medicine get a salary of Rs 8750 per month whereas those who have done BSc. Nursing get Rs 9250 per month. In response to an RTI (Right to Information) query filed by the Association, they were told that the details of the hospitals which don’t give minimum wages to nurses were not available.

“Either the Association or the Labour department officials don’t have any idea on how many hospitals don’t pay the minimum wages as stipulated by the government notification in 2013. But as per the information that we have gathered from our members, 80-90% of the hospitals don’t pay the wages as promised in 2013,” said Siby Mukesh, Thiruvananthapuram district secretary of the Association.

It was in April 2013 that the Kerala government had reached an agreement with private sector hospitals to revise the pay structure of nurses by 25 to 35% after a series of protests by nurses in different 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. “Minimum wages have to be paid, if there are lapses on the part of any of the hospitals, we are ready to take it up. The Labour department has been instructing the hospitals to adhere to the agreement reached in 2013. There might be some who don’t follow that. The issues will be discussed in the meeting to be held on Thursday,” an official of the Labour Department said. 

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