The nurses on strike at the Mar Baselios Hospital, Kothamangalam, will celebrate International Nurses' Day in protest on Saturday. It will be the 19 day of the strike and the nurses have planned a slew of programmes at their strike venue.

According to Abhilal V., president of the Indian Nurses Association (INA) that is leading the strike at the hospital, the Labour Department had been acting as a mouthpiece of the hospital management. The bond system continues at the 350-bed hospital, he alleged.

A representative of the District Labour Department said that there have been several rounds of talks on the issue, but the management and the nurses failed to resolve the issue. According to the official, the management did not wish to absorb nurses who have been working there for a few months to a year under the bond system that was prevalent before the Supreme Court ruling.

According to a representative of the INA at the hospital, there are about 250 nursing staff of whom 133 are on strike and another 50 are on leave because they cannot join the strike due to various compulsions from the management. Nurses work in five categories in the hospital. There are about 55 nurses who are under the permanent category who have been working for about 5 to 15 years at the hospital. Many of these nurses have also joined the strike, said the INA representative.

There are 30-odd nurses who are working without any payment, said the nurses from the hospital. As part of the International Nurses' Day celebration, INA organised a free camp for detection of kidney diseases at the Police AR Camp Hall at Marine Drive. Father Davis Chiramel, chairman, Kidney Federation of India, was the chief guest. A presentation on dementia was held by the Alzheimer's and Related Disorders' Society of India.

T.R. Winson, sub-inspector, AR Camp, inaugurated the camp. Liju Vengal, president, INA, presided.

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