Management refuses to attend meeting held by mediation committee

The talks held by the mediation committee at the Kerala High Court to end the nurses’ strike at Thrissur Mother Hospital failed on Thursday as the management of the hospital refused to attend the meeting.

The Hospital Management Association, a forum of hospital managements, and the United Nurses’ Association participated in the talks.

The Hospital Management alleged that the nurses’ agitation had been creating hardship for the patients. The lives of 174 patients in critical condition were under threat due to the agitation, the association said.

The United Nurses’ Association said that nurses on emergency had been exempted from taking part in strike. “Presence of 25 per cent nurses at every hospital was ensured by the association,” UNA leader Jasmin Shah said.

The talks will continue on Friday. The mediation committee has asked the Mother Hospital management to attend the discussion on Friday.

The nurses at Mother Hospital have been on relay strike for the last 73 days demanding implementation of Balram Committee recommendations. Various rounds of talks between the agitating nurses and the management of Mother Hospital failed to yield any result as the management refused to take back the nurses, who were suspended from service.

The UNA alleged that the obduracy of the management was the reason for failure of the discussions.

Justice P.R. Ramachandran Nair referred the issue to the mediation centre when a writ petition filed by the Kerala Private Hospital Association and hospital managements seeking to declare hospital service as essential service or public utility service and to ban strike in hospitals came up for hearing.

VS plea

Special Correspondent adds from Thiruvananthapuram; Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, in a statement, urged the government to intervene urgently to bring the private hospital nurses’ strike in Kannur and Thrissur to a negotiated settlement.

He pointed out that the nurses were on the warpath for weeks fed up with the private hospital managements’ exploitation.

The government appeared reluctant to warn the managements of stern action if they did not pay at least minimum wages to the nurses. The managements were forcing the nurses to work for up to 12 hours daily paying a paltry Rs.2,000 or Rs.3,000 because of this stand of the government.

The government should take immediate steps to implement the Balaraman Committee report on revising the salaries and service conditions of nurses, he said.

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