Nurses in private hospitals in the State, represented by the Indian Nurses’ Association (INA) and the United Nurses’ Association (UNA), have decided to intensify their agitation for fair and decent wages and not to wait till July 20, when the government says it will convene another meeting of the industrial relations committee (IRC) to decide the wage revision for nurses.
The UNA, which has been on an indefinite strike in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kozhikode, but without affecting the functioning of hospitals, said it would organise a Secretariat march and Statewide token strike on July 11.
The protest against the government’s refusal to push the issue of minimum wages of nurses again to the IRC.
The indefinite hunger strike by the INA entered the fourth day on Saturday.
Nurses affiliated to the INA have been striking work in Kannur district for the past three days.
INA leaders said they would intensify the strike to Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod from July 8.
“The last IRC on June 27 left it to the government to finalise and notify the minimum wages of nurses. The government has now gone back on its word and is talking about convening the IRC again.
“We do not need any more discussions, we just want the government to notify the minimum wages based on the recommendation of the committee set up by the Supreme Court, under Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services,” Sibi Mukesh, State vice president, UNA, said.
The INA and UNA reiterated that they were not asking for a mere minimum wages of ₹20,000 for nurses
The apex court had ordered enactment of legislation to implement the recommendations of the Jagdish Prasad committee.
The said committee had recommended that nurses in private hospitals with over 200 beds be given a salary on a par with that drawn by State government nurses of the corresponding grade.
In private hospitals with more than 100 beds, nurses should be paid a salary not less than 10% in comparison of the salary of State government nurses of similar grade. It said that even for nurses working in private hospitals in the State with less than 50 beds, the monthly basic salary should not be less that ₹20,000.
The basic pay of a staff nurse in government hospitals is ₹27,900, whereas the monthly salary of nurses in private hospitals is ₹6,500. Minimum wages were declared for private sector nurses in the State for the first time in May 2013, when the salary of nurses were fixed at ₹12,000-13,500.
The private hospitals’ management had declared at the last IRC that they were not willing to give a salary hike of over 30-35%.