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Explained: Why are AIIMS nurses protesting despite the Covid-19 pandemic?

AIIMS nurses protest: Despite requests from the administration to continue work in view of the Covid-19 situation, nurses have refused to relent. Here's why

Written by Ashna Butani , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 21, 2020 3:05:52 pm
Members of AIIMS Nurses Union raise slogans during their indefinite strike over in New Delhi (PTI Photo/Atul Yadav)(PTI15-12-2020_000098A)

Around 5,000 AIIMS nurses have been on an indefinite strike since Monday afternoon in support of a number of demands, including lack of clarity of their salary structure under the Sixth Pay Commission. Despite requests from the administration to continue work in view of the Covid-19 situation, nurses have refused to relent.

What are their demands regarding the salary?

In a letter to the Director of AIIMS dated November 13, the nurses have cited 23 unresolved demands. Foremost among them is the demand to address the Sixth Pay Commission anomaly with respect to their salaries. Nurses said their salary was fixed at Rs 18,460 per month but they receive Rs 17,140. They said that their demand is not a pay hike, rather, that they be paid what is mentioned under the Sixth Pay Commission. They had written to the administration last month, stating that they would go on an indefinite strike if the issues were not resolved soon.

What are their other demands?

The nurses are also protesting against the reservation on the basis of gender at AIIMS that requires 80 per cent of the nursing staff to be female. Nurses say the quota is leaving many qualified men unemployed. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

Their other demands are related to the pension scheme, cadre restructuring, qualification pay and modifications in job description, among others.

The hospital has also decided to outsource nurses on a contractual basis, which has angered the nurses further. The nurses said that earlier candidates had to sit for an entrance test in order to get recruited. Recruiting nurses on a contractual basis, they say, will advesrely impact the superior quality of healthcare provided by AIIMS.

What has the AIIMS director appealed to the nurses?

In a video message to the nursing union on Monday, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria made an appeal to all the nurses to not go on strike during the pandemic.

“The nurses union has put in 23 demands and almost all of the demands have been met by the AIIMS administration and by the government. There is one demand which they have insisted upon and this is basically a perceived anomaly in the fixation of the pay, as far as the 6th CPC is concerned. It, however, seems inappropriate that when the country is fighting a pandemic and we are fighting for our near and dear ones to save lives and we know that we need to work for few more months, and the vaccine may provide a solution, unfortunately, at this point of time the nurses union have gone on a strike,” said Dr Guleria.

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