Their demands also include better working conditions and salaries

In the wake of the death of Beena Baby, a nurse at the Asian Heart Hospital in Mumbai who allegedly committed suicide due to harassment by her employers, a large number of nurses gathered at Jantar Mantar here on Friday to raise their voice against poor working conditions prevailing at the city hospitals.

The candlelight march, organised by the Indian Professional Nurses' Association and the Delhi Private Nurses' Association, was inaugurated by two Members of Parliament, Anto Antony (Pathanamthitta, Kerala) and Jose K. Mani (Kottayam, Kerala), along with a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Kerala, V.T. Balram.

Waving placards that stated, “Our hands are full of work, but our pockets are empty” and “If you don't take care of the nurses, who will take care of the people?”, the nurses gathered for the march said “the bond system which requires payment of money for leaving the job during the bond period was unjust and illegal” and that the nursing profession was plagued by low salaries, unduly long work hours, lack of medical insurance facilities, and high patient-nurse ratio.

They felt that at Rs.35,000 per month the salaries were better in the public sector, when compared with the meagre Rs.7,000 per month on offer in the private sector.

The male nurses gathered at the march were distressed by the gender categorisation in private hospitals, stating that very few of them were willing to employ male nurses.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Antony said “a comprehensive law is required to regulate the minimum wages and working conditions of nurses in the country in order to abolish the bond system and restore the dignity of the profession”.

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