Three days after their first strike protesting the proposed pay cuts, nurses at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Hospital went on strike again on Thursday. Their grievance this time was that the decision to rollback the paycut has not yet been officially communicated to them in writing.
Ramya Kumar Bhatt, CEO of SVP, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s frontline Covid hospital, meanwhile, said the protests were “motivated”. Despite repeated calls for the aggrieved staffers to present their demands, no one came forward, he said.
“Our security guards conveyed to them that they can approach us but no one has come yet and no official communication has been conveyed either from their side. We have taken note of five staffers from Rajasthan who are creating trouble and we will take action against them. These five did not report for duty for their shift today starting at 8 am,” said Bhatt.
He added that the rollback of the salary cuts proposed by the contractual companies was communicated by e-mail. A written communication on the SVP letterhead, signed by Bhatt was issued on June 8, declaring that salary deduction will not happen and an additional 20 per cent of their salary will be paid for June. The same day, AMC commissioner Mukesh Kumar issued a notification saying that all contractual hires in the hospitals will be considered to be under the direct employment of AMC and that they will have to continue to work where they are deployed.
A press note issued by the AMC named five staffers as “provoking other employees to disrupt functioning”, and stated that a police complaint shall be filed against them under the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and IPC section 188. Apart from the criminal proceedings, proceedings will be initiated to fire the said employees, stated the note.
Nurses and others had found the proposed salary cuts to be contentious on the ground that they were working hard with many of their peers infected by Covid-19. Bhatt said that at present, 10 of their hospital staff members are active cases of Covid-19 and are being treated at the hospital itself.
A Gujarat High Court order on May 14 said that “ At this point of time, no employee of any hospital can go on a strike. At the same time, the employees should be paid their salaries in time.”
Bhatt said the disbursement of AMC-linked incentive of Rs 250 per day for those on Covid duty is under way for some while for some others, the same has been done in the past two days since Tuesday.
SVP Hospital, a Covid-19 designated hospital managed by the AMC, which has a capacity to accommodate 1,000 patients, has only 305 patients at present, 10 of whom are on ventilator, according to an AMC official.