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Working without pay for months, nurses at Kasturba hospital say unable to pay bills

Manju Lata, one of the nurses at the hospital, said that over 60 staff participated in the protest: “For the past four years, salary delay has been a regular feature. But there is a limit to it; we haven’t been paid in three months. Why are we risking our lives if we don't even get a salary?”

Written by Abhinav Rajput | New Delhi | Published: July 7, 2020 3:30:58 am
Tamil Nadu death toll, Chennai death data, chennai toll, Tamil Nadu coronavirus cases, Supreme Court last month told the Centre that the country cannot afford to have dissatisfied soldiers in the war against the pandemic, and asked authorities to go the extra mile to raise funds for them.(PTI/Representational)

Weeks after a strike was called by paramedical staff and doctors of North MCD’s Hindu Rao Hospital against delay in payment of salary, nurses at the corporation’s Kasturba Hospital held a two-hour protest on Monday.

B L Sharma, president of the hospital’s nurses’ union, said the last salary they got is from March — which was paid in May. He said the protest will go on till they get assurance from the administration.

This comes even as the Delhi High Court intervened in the matter and asked the civic body to pay salaries.

Manju Lata, one of the nurses at the hospital, said that over 60 staff participated in the protest: “For the past four years, salary delay has been a regular feature. But there is a limit to it; we haven’t been paid in three months. Why are we risking our lives if we don’t even get a salary?”

She said: “We are managing our finances by taking credit. But some people have been reduced to a state where they are not able to pay school fees of their children, and are exhausting money to buy ration… If they cannot pay us, officials should ensure we get food…”

Alka Kaushik, another nurse, said: “We didn’t raise an issue earlier, considering the pandemic and the patients. Several nurses risk their lives going to the hospital every day on public transport… The salary delay has led to me getting a notice from the bank to pay my house loan and credit card bills…”

North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash said the corporation has halted all expenses, and is focusing only on paying salaries: “The Covid crisis has led to a fund crunch from different heads like property tax, parking and other resources… this is why salary has been delayed.”

“We are trying to give them money as soon as possible and also increase avenues to increase resources,” he said.

The North MCD employs at least 1,000 senior doctors, 500 resident doctors, and 1,500 nursing officers across its medical facilities. All of their salaries are delayed. Hospitals such as Hindu Rao, Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases, Kasturba hospital, Girdhari Lal Maternity hospital and Rajan Babu Institute of Pulmonary Medicine and Tuberculosis fall under the North MCD, as do 21 dispensaries, 63 maternity and child welfare centres, 17 polyclinics and 7 maternity homes.

In a hearing last month, taking note of instances of non-payment of salary to doctors treating Covid-19 patients, the Supreme Court told the Centre that the country cannot afford to have dissatisfied soldiers in the war against the pandemic, and asked authorities to go the extra mile to raise funds for them.

Besides healthcare staff, several other North MCD employees such as school teachers and contractors have not been paid.

Sagardeep Singh, general secretary of the Hindu Rao hospital resident doctors’ association, said they last received salaries for April, in the third week of June. “This when we are on Covid duty,” he said.

 

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