Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Wednesday that the government was firm that the private hospitals should pay minimum wages to nurses and paramedical staff.

“It is the law of the land. It has to be paid,” Mr. Chandy said in reply to questions from the media at his weekly Cabinet briefing. (The questions related to threat from hospital managements to close down the hospitals in the face strike by nurses.)

The Chief Minister added that the service conditions prevailing in Kerala too should be followed by the hospitals. As to other issues, they were matters to be settled through discussions and agreements between the management and staff.

He noted that the Labour Minister Shibhu Baby John and the Labour Department were already involved in efforts to settle the issues. Understanding had already reached on certain issues.

The Chief Minister said that no decision had been taken on raising the pension age, though active discussions on the issue were going on. While the argument that the pension age should be raised in view of higher life expectancy was acceptable, the concerns of the unemployed needed to be addressed. The discussions were aiming at a package that would be acceptable to the youth also.

Mr. Chandy said that the unification of retirement date (providing for retirements at the end of the financial year only) caused a large number of complaints and practical problems. Those issues needed to be addressed.

He said that the government was trying to come to an understanding with the managements of private medical colleges at the earliest on admissions and free structure. Talks were held with the medical college managements last night. Talks with the managements of engineering colleges had been held earlier.

Referring to clashes between KSU activists in Malabar on Tuesday, the Chief Minister said that it was wrong to resort to violence. None would be allowed to take the law into their hands. No serious law and order problem had arisen from the clashes.

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