Kerala nurses strike: Here is all you need to know

On an indefinite strike in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kozhikode, the United Nurses' Association in Kerala has said that a march to the Secretariat as well as a statewide token strike would be held on July 11 demanding better pay.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 2, 2017 5:12 pm
kerala nurses, wage war, ina, una, indian nurses association, unites nurses association, pvt hospitals, nurse salary strike, kerala news, indian express The stir would be aggravated and taken to Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod from July 8, leaders of the INA said. (Representational image. files)

The fight for better wages among nurses in Kerala is set to aggravate with nurses strengthening protest against the government demanding standard wages. The Indian Nurses’ Association (INA) and the United Nurses’ Association (UNA) are determined to escalate their protest without waiting for the government’s industrial relations committee (IRC) meeting to take a decision on the issue scheduled to be held on July 20.

On an indefinite strike in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kozhikode, the UNA has said that a march to the Secretariat as well as a statewide token strike would be held on July 11, according to a report in The Hindu.

“We have no option now. Even if we starve to death we have decided that we will fight this to the end because we cannot survive on this meagre salary in today’s world. In the next few days, 80,000 of us are going to march to the government secretariat in protest and nurses across private hospitals will start boycotting work soon,” UNA chief Jasminsha was quoted as saying by Firstpost.

The INA, however, has decided to go on a hunger strike till their demands are met. By Saturday, the strike was on its fourth day. INA nurses’ stir has hit work in Kannur district since the past three-four days. The stir would be aggravated and taken to Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod from July 8, leaders of the INA said.

“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,” UNA vice president for Kerala, Sibi Mukesh was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

What is the strike all about?

In 2016, a recommendation by a special committee assigned by the Supreme Court had said that all privately owned hospitals with 50 bed plus capacity had to make sure that nurses get salaries at par with those in the government sector. This came after nurses had agitated in 2013. Basic wage for them was Rs 9,500, according to a pay scale revision in 2013. Nurses claim that certain hospitals fail to ensure even the minimum salary.

With hordes of nurses from the state flying abroad for better pay, the profession experienced a boom between 2000-2010. This led to colleges springing up in myriad parts of the state as well as a surge in numbers of applicants, a lot of whom opted for diplomas from colleges outside Kerala, without checking the credentials of the institute.

Nurse associations feel this is when salary discrepancy started. In order to get a two-year experience certificate, they began compromising with less pay. “When I started working in 1987, an MBBS doctor got Rs 1,500-2,000 and nurses got about Rs 1,000.That was the difference. Today, a doctor gets Rs 30,000 and a nurse gets Rs 6,000-8,000 in the first year,” Roy George, Kerala chief of the Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI) was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

The nurses called for the indefinite strike after talks between the nurses’ union, labour commissioner K Biju and labour minister TP Ramakrishnan failed. While the union demanded at least Rs 18,000, the hospitals have agreed to a minimum monthly wage of Rs 12,000. The strike has come at a time when epidemics and related diseases have claimed over 100 lives.

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  1. R
    Regulation for private sector
    Jul 4, 2017 at 12:19 am
    s: surveymonkey /r/QNKLM8Z
    1. Ramakrishnan Iyer
      Jul 3, 2017 at 5:58 am
      It is a fact that most of the hospitals are not paying even minimum wages. This is a fact not only in Kerala but all over India. Really they are exploited. Present labour friendly govt (as they say) should come out and sort out the problem. If they can support NOKKU KOOLI (Keralites know) why can't this reqsonable case?
      1. B
        Jul 2, 2017 at 10:22 pm
        There is no media coverage for this News in other channels, Thanks to Indian Express, Thank you so much for supporting us, My support for the Nurses Strike. Give our wages, for our work,.
        1. S
          Jul 2, 2017 at 9:27 pm
          It is surprising. Laborers coming from other states and even Bangladesh earn a minimum of 500 per day in Kerala while nurses are not being paid even half of that for a higher level of services.
          1. G
            George Cruz
            Jul 2, 2017 at 7:42 pm
            These nurses are against development of Kerala. While they cannot go to the border and take care of the bravehearts who are killed daily by Porkistan, they need more ry? Stupid KERALITE Nurses!
            1. K
              Kamal Pasha
              Jul 2, 2017 at 8:19 pm
              George Cruz : What do you mean the nurses CANNOT go or nurses refuse to go?
              1. A
                Jul 2, 2017 at 9:05 pm
                Dear Cruz, Why you can not go to border and satisfy yourself
              2. B
                Jul 2, 2017 at 10:14 pm
                George wow You really had great knowledge, can I get a autograph. from where you had schooling, they will be really proud of you, (if they are alive)
                1. M
                  Jul 3, 2017 at 12:06 am
                  What are you, a moron? Since when is asking for a living wage is against development of Kerala ? Paying a ry of ₹9500/month for new hires by private hospitable is laughable considering a shoe sman get ₹15000/ and above in the state.
                  1. Uday Krishnan
                    Jul 3, 2017 at 9:58 am
                    Great George of the .......
                    1. S
                      Jul 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm
                      Yes .it was .now kerala nurses are trying to change our remarks made once by goerge cruz like person .we had been contolled our all emotion irrespective of our daily living till 2011 .since then we have been realized the fact what we did in the past for the sake of social committments were totally a b er .now we are trying change our destiny not interms of getting better pay but to stop all exploitation which have widely been on private hospital sector .your attempt to lace this issue with our soldiers is absolute way to divert our issue ...the person like you ,cannot understand what we are doing before you might be your committment towards some management which are operated by major private mangement group catholics or some other.but our soldiers are more powerful and critical to think what is happening arround them .no need a push to .amid our all pressure and stress ,we are performing our part very well.only people those who can understand our struggle is our braverst army
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