Cannot take them back without government directive: BMRCI

Fourteen days after they withdrew their strike demanding regularisation of service, the 450 contract nurses are still waiting to report to duty in the four hospitals run by the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI).

On Wednesday, these nurses waited in vain in front of BMCRI with a hope they will be asked to report to work. This follows a statement by Medical Education Minister S.A. Ramdas on Tuesday that they will be allowed to work in the hospitals.

These nurses had been working for the last five years in the four BMCRI hospitals (Bowring and Lady Curzon, Victoria, Vani Vilas and Minto) on a six-month contract that was renewed periodically. They launched the strike on January 9, two days after the Medical Education Department issued a notification inviting applications for the recruitment of 720 nurses, paramedic staff and lab technicians. The strike was withdrawn on January 30.

“We withdrew our strike after BMCRI Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ravi Kumar intervened to work out a compromise through the Labour Department. As we have also approached the Karnataka High Court for redressal, the CAO said we should first report to duty and then fight it out legally. Although we have been visiting the hospitals daily, the officials are yet to give us reporting orders,” said B.G. Kumaraswamy, vice-president of BMCRI Stipendary Staff Nurses’ Welfare Association.

O.S. Siddappa, BMCRI Dean and Director, told The Hindu that BMCRI could not take them back on work without a government direction. “We are not keen on taking them back. They have abstained from work for more than a month. As they are on contract, they are not bound to serve any notice period if they want to leave. And a month’s absence means their contract has become invalid,” Dr. Siddappa said.

“Patient care has not been hit in any way because we have deployed more than 200 nurses from our Schools of Nursing located in Bowring and Victoria Hospitals,” he said.

The services of 45 nurses recently appointed at the Super-Speciality Hospital built under the Pradhana Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) are also being used for the main Victoria Hospital. Besides, 42 interns from the College of Nursing in Victoria Hospital are also continuing internship.

“The process of appointing new nurses is on. We have received more than 13,000 applications,” he added.

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