Talks on with hospital managements

The government is trying to work out an amicable solution on implementing the minimum wages recommendation for nurses in private hospitals across the State, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John told the Assembly on Monday.

Replying to a calling attention motion by P.V. Vishnunath, he said the Industrial Relations Committee set up by the government was trying to reach a consensus with the management of hospitals that were yet to implement the minimum wages. He said the government was concerned about the impact of the minimum wages on the cost of healthcare provided by the hospitals.

“There is a genuine fear that hospitals would try to pass on the enhanced financial liability to patients. It is a sensitive issue that could affect large sections,” he said.

The Minister said the government had consciously avoided setting up a Minimum Wages Commission or issuing a notification because it would have involved a lengthy procedure for implementation.

He denied Mr. Vishnunath’s charge about trying to scuttle the Balaraman committee’s recommendations on working conditions of nurses. “As many as 50 recommendations made by the commission relate to labour laws. The government is studying the recommendations”.

Earlier, Mr. Vishnunath alleged that private hospitals were still denying legitimate rights to nurses and suppressing their agitation. “Many hospitals had stopped appointing male nurses fearing that they would stoke unrest among employees. The Balaraman committee recommendations on wages, duty time, allowances, and uniform have not been implemented”.

He urged the government to enact a Clinical Establishment Bill for hospitals and to amend the Nurses and Midwives Act. He also demanded the establishment of a Nurses’ Directorate.