Action for taking part in Joint Action Council of Nurses rally

An order of the Medical Education Director to withhold the stipend of postgraduate nursing students at government nursing colleges in the State has put them in a dilemma.

The students were asked to give an explanation on why they attended a meeting and a rally organised by the Joint Action Council of Nurses in early February, citing that the rally was an uprising against the government.

The Joint Action Council had organised the rally demanding that postgraduate nurses be considered to the post of community health officers and school health nurses.

The rally, headed by many Congress leaders, was inaugurated by Hibi Eden, MLA. The students at government nursing colleges have been denied the stipend — an amount of Rs.13,600 — because they took part in the rally.

The order dated March 4, signed by the Deputy Director of Nursing Education (DDNE) for the Medical Education Director, says that forming an action council and protesting in public were unlawful as per the Nursing PG prospectus and that doing so could adversely affect the functioning of the respective hospitals.

The institutions were directed to issue show-cause notices to the students and that the reply should be sent to the office of the DDNE.

The issue of the stipend would be resolved after further discussion, the order says.

The order has adversely affected the students, as most of them depend on the stipend entirely for their expenses at college. Many students are unable to pay their hostel and mess fees after the stipend has been withheld.

‘Real’ reason

However, the students are not convinced that the reason cited for the action was the real one. A leader of the nurses’ association in Kozhikode told The Hindu that they suspected that they were being made scapegoats in a tiff between the DDNE and office-bearers of the Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI), which was a major constituent of the Joint Action Council that organised the rally.

“The DDNE had contested the recently concluded election to the top posts in the TNAI and lost. We are being targeted because the DDNE had no hold over the association and its leaders, who are mostly from the private sector,” a student said.

An office-bearer of TNAI said the DDNE was in support of the demands made by the postgraduate nursing students before the election. “This person recommended to the government that there was no need to start the B.Sc. Community Health Officer courses and that the B.Sc. Nursing graduates could be trained to do the job,” he added.

Nursing students across the State have come up in protest against the order. They allege that even students who had not taken part in the rally have not been spared from the order.