Maternity leave was one of the several demands of over 700 nurses from primary health care centres (PHC) across 32 districts during a protest staged near Memorial Hall opposite Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Saturday.
At 2 p.m., representatives of Tamil Nadu Medical Workers’ Federation submitted a petition to Girija Vaidyanathan, principal secretary of the Health Department, and Paran Jothi, the Director of Medical Services. Among others, the petition states that nurses be given permanent employment and the number of nurses at each rural PHC be increased.
In response to an earlier petition submitted last month, officials of the Health department, said that the reason behind the lack of permanent positions in the PHC was the worry that once made permanent, nurses would ask for promotions and eventually seek transfers or move to bigger district hospitals.
At the protest, the biggest complaint of the nurses was the number of work hours each of them is burdened with. At a salary of just Rs. 4,500 per month, three nurses rotated shifts in a six-day week. In their petition, they demanded that six nurses be appointed at each health care centre.
G. R. Ravindranath, president of TNMWF, said, “The government need not give them promotions just yet. They can be made permanent staff in order to avail of allowances like maternity leave and salary hike.”
They are still awaiting a response from the government, Dr. Ravindranath said. “There needs to be a major policy change,” he said. The nurses stressed on the fact that this was not a strike but a silent protest.