It was considered one of the deadly viruses to have affected Kerala - the Nipah virus. But, what many medical staff refused to take up, 42 people undertook with courage - the task of handling patients in the Nipah isolation ward at the height of the outbreak. Although a temporary job, they were promised it would be made permanent. But the promise was not kept. They fought and after 16 days, the 42 temporary hospital staff workers, who had been deployed by the Kozhikode Government Medical College hospital for its Nipah isolation wards, have ended their strike.
The workers called off their strike after Kozhikode Government Medical College authorities accepted the bulk of the Action Councilâ€™s demands, in the third round of talks between college authorities and representatives of the Action Council. These 42 temporary workers were deployed after regular staff had refused to undertake duties in the Nipah isolation wards during the peak of the virus scare, between May 19 and May 31, 2018.
The medical college authorities had promised these temporary staff that they would be employed as permanent staff as a gesture of gratitude and recognition of their selfless work and service during the Nipah outbreak. However, they were terminated from service at the end of 2018, breaking the promise that had been made to them.
These workers then went on a strike from January 4. Due to lack of response from the authorities, the staff intensified their strike and went on a hunger strike from January 15. After the authorities finally woke up to the demand, the group called off the strike.
Mini C, convenor of the Action Council, told TNM, â€śWe decided to call off the strike for now, after the medical college authorities told us that they will give permanent jobs to 24 of the workers who had been working in the period, including four nurses and 18 cleaning staff. The other remaining staff will also be given jobs according to the vacancies in the near future.â€ť
The hired staff have also been assured periodic renewals of their contracts to ensure continued service.
Mini added, â€śThey said they will issue us a certificate, which will help us get these jobs. They said that this will be given to us by Monday. We donâ€™t know for certain how true it will be. If they do not keep their promise, we will resume and intensify our protest.â€ť