Resident doctors (postgraduate medical students) in all five Government Medical Colleges in the State went on a 24-hour token strike on Thursday, staying away from all hospital duties, in protest against the hike in fee structure fixed by the Kerala University of Health and Allied Sciences (KUHAS) and demanding that they be paid a higher stipend.

Medicos are protesting against the steep hike in exam fee and various other fee fixed by KUHAS. They pointed out that the exam fee, which used to be Rs. 750 to 1,000, has been hiked to over Rs. 7,500. The late fee, fine had also been hiked several times over.

The fee for submitting dissertations, which used to be Rs. 250 till 2011, was now fixed at Rs. 2,000, they said.

The course fee was fixed at over Rs. 51,000, which was one of the highest in the country, the medicos pointed out. They said despite their continued representations to the Government for an enhancement in their stipend, they continued to be paid Rs. 23,000 while across the country, PGs were being paid a stipend of Rs. 35,000.

They demanded that the maternity benefits given to women residents, which had been withheld earlier, be reinstated. Despite the government claims that it had been reinstated, there was no clarity on the issue, they said.

The medicos have demanded that a Senate with student representation be set up at KUHAS.

Medicos said that they planned to launch an indefinite strike from February 28, if the government did not take a favourable view of their long-standing demands.