Nurses strike in Thrissur: 6 hospitals agree to demands; strike to continue until further demands are met

The nurses have been demanding a minimum daily wage of ₹1,500, an assured staff-patient ratio, and an end to contractual employment.

BySreerag PS

Published Apr 11, 2023 | 4:46 PM Updated Apr 11, 2023 | 8:54 PM

United Nurses Association (UNA) members hold a strike in Thrissur city, seeking better wages and working conditions. (Supplied)

Yet again, members of the United Nurses’ Association (UNA) are out on the streets of Kerala, demanding better wages and working conditions.

This time, the nurses are holding a 72-hour strike in Thrissur as talks with private hospital representatives broke down.

Unlike in the past, the nurses’ association strike on Monday, 10 April, yielded results as six hospitals have already agreed to their demands.

On Tuesday, around 2,000 nurses joined the protest. In the morning, members of the UNA marched from West Fort to the collectorate office near Ayyanthole in the city.

The nurses have been demanding a minimum daily wage of ₹1,500 and a 50 percent interim relief, an assured staff-patient ratio, and an end to contractual employment so that those on contract are made permanent employees.

Also read: Will high court step in to help Kerala nurses?

Strike to continue until agreement reached

Speaking to South First, United Nurses’ Association’s state Treasurer Divya ES said, “This is the third time we are on strike this year. On 5 January, we called a warning strike and subsequently had numerous discussions with private hospital representatives. However, all the discussions failed.”

According to Divya, the discussions on Monday went on till 2 am on Tuesday, but they couldn’t reach an agreement with many of the hospitals.

She stated that in the hospitals where a partial agreement was reached, or in those that assured temporary relief to their nursing staff, the nurses continued to do their service.

Hospitals agreed to at least temporary relief to the protesting nursing staff include Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, Daya General Hospital, Sun Medical And Research Centre, and Malankara Mission Hospital.

The hospital management agreed to the demands as the UNA threatened to boycott work, including services in the intensive care units (ICUs).

The nurses continue to boycott services in ICUs of hospitals where they have not come to an agreement.

According to Divya, Mother Hospital and Elite Hospital in Thrissur are among the hospitals that are refraining from even having a discussion with the nursing staff.

Also read: ‘Merely a warning’, say Kerala nurses on ‘black day’ observance

Previous protests

Last year, more than 15,000 members of the association observed 15 December as a “black day”. The nurses from across the state attended work wearing black armbands to press for their demands.

On 5 January this year, the nurses held a day-long strike at Thrissur where more than 2,000 members of the UNA participated. However, despite the strike, none of the hospital management accepted their demands.

“No increase in salary or revision of minimum wages, merely contract appointments and hospital management have made the Labour Department look like a scarecrow. The nursing community will begin widespread agitation across the state,” read a flex board installed in Thrissur.

Divya told South First that the organisation had decided to strike across Kerala in the near future if the government could not ensure that the basic demands of nurses are met.

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