Hundreds of nurses from three corporate hospitals boycotted work on Saturday, as a result of which hospitals deployed their nursing students and tutors to attend to the patients. While the nurses of Madras Medical Mission, Mogappair, continued their strike on Saturday, those in Fortis Malar Hospital, Adyar, and Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, also struck work.

According to Jinu Varghese, secretary of All India Private Nurses' Association, around 60 nurses in Malar Hospital had been issued suspension orders and male nurses had been asked to vacate the hostel in Thiruvanmiyur. In both hospitals, the nurses plan to continue their strike, Mr. Varghese said. A representative of the 800 nurses on strike at Apollo Hospitals said that they would continue their strike on Sunday and stick to their demand for a monthly salary of Rs.15,000.

In a press release, Brig. Joe Curian, Chief Executive Officer, Madras Medical Mission, said that at the end of an eight-hour discussion with the representatives of the striking nurses and the Additional Commissioner of Labour C. Somburajan on Friday, the management had agreed to discuss the nurses' demand of Rs.15,000 as salary and that a decision would be announced on March 19. It would return nurses' certificates after verification; provide double payment for overtime instead of extra weekly offs and issue experience certificate after one year of service.

The management would not insist on executing bonds and has sought a notice of 14 days from nurses for going on strike. It has also stated that participants of the strike would not be penalised but salary would not be paid to those participating. According to Mr. Curian, the nurses were continuing their strike despite agreeing to rejoin duty on Saturday. Global Hospitals, MIOT Hospitals and Billroth Hospitals issued a joint statement along with the three affected hospitals stating that indirect benefits such as accommodation, transportation and meals provided to the nurses formed part of the overall remuneration package. “Beyond these costs incurred by the hospital organisation, as mentioned, an enormous amount is spent on training the nurses and skill building for which the nurses are not charged,” the statement said.

Salaries for nurses are commensurate with their qualification, said A.K. Ravi Kumar, secretary, Tamil Nadu Private Nursing Homes Board. According to him, the demand for paramedical staff is high across the world, and hence the high attrition. Corporate hospitals are only slightly better off as they can fall back on nursing students until they finish their education.

“Since qualified nurses move for better salary, most of the small and medium hospitals contend with poorly trained nurses. To prevent this, we have proposed that the smaller institutions which send their students to us for six months training should register with the Board,” he said.

Keywords: nurses strike

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