Nurses threaten Statewide strike

Talks convened by Labour Minister fail to resolve KVM Hospital stalemate

February 08, 2018 08:57 pm | Updated February 09, 2018 06:37 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Nurses in the private sector in the State, under the banner of the United Nurses’ Association (UNA), are moving towards a Statewide indefinite strike with the failure of the talks convened by Labour Minister T. P. Ramakrishnan on Thursday to discuss the ongoing nurses’ strike at KVM Hospital, Cherthala.

The Minister had convened the talks to find a solution to the strike by nurses at the Cherthala hospital which has crossed 172 days.

The UNA has been quite unhappy with the government’s apathy in settling the strike and had last month threatened to organise a Statewide strike if there was no initiative by the Labour Department to end the stalemate.

Nurses at KVM Hospital began their protest after the hospital management terminated the services of two of their colleagues. Since then 112 nurses of the hospital have been protesting in front of the hospital, demanding that they be reinstated.

At Thursday’s discussions, despite the government’s efforts, the hospital management took the stand that none of the nurses would be reinstated, UNA State vice president Sibi Mukesh said.

“UNA State secretary Sujanapal Achuthan will go on an indefinite hunger strike in front of KVM Hospital from Friday. We will go for an indefinite Statewide strike if the issue is not settled,” he said. Though the government has offered to call another discussion soon, the date has not yet been fixed.

No PF benefits

The UNA said KVM Hospital had not been paying even the minimum wages announced in 2013. The working hours often extended to 12 to 16 hours, no ESI or PF benefits are given and the nurses are often fined for taking leave.

While two nurses were issued termination notice, the rest of the nurses went on strike to express their solidarity with their colleagues. Though they were not formally served termination notices, the management has now refused to take back any of the striking nurses.

The management had in between announced the closure of the hospital but it was reopened with new nursing staff. The UNA said it decided to go on strike once again as the plight of nurses in many private hospitals did not change even after a new wage structure and working hours were announced.

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