NURSES OF PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN FARIDABAD ON WAR PATH, & TAKE OUT A RALLY AROUND FARIDABAD
NURSES of ASIAN HOSPITAL SIT ON HUNGER STRIKE ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL NURSES’ DAY
The nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Faridabad and QRG Central Hospital continue to sit on strike for the sixth consecutive day. Since 6 days have passed and no fruitful negotiation seems in sight, the nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) decided to commemorate International Nurses’ Day by sitting on hunger strike, rather than celebrating the most important day of their profession with fanfare. The striking nurses of AIMS also took out a large rally from outside the hospital to Badhkal Chowk and HUDA Market. By going on hunger strike and taking out such a rally, the nurses’ have tried to expose how the nursing profession is treated in the medical community and society at large. On the hand, the management of both hospitals refuse to negotiate on the nurses’ just demands, although patients are vacating the hostel in panic, leading to huge financial loss. Following their meeting on Nurses’ Day, the nurses of both AIMS and QRG Central hospitals have decided to form a Joint Action Committee (JAC) so as to unite nurses of all the different hospitals in Faridabad. Considering that conditions continue to be grave, the nurses have also started to think along the lines of holding a JOINT PROTEST outside the office of the Deputy Labour Commissioner in Faridabad.
As of now the nurses of AIMS are paid a paltry sum of Rs. 11,000 from which the hospital management cuts PF, etc. Due to this the nurses get only some Rs. 9000 in hand—an amount which is way below the Rs. 42,000 earned by government hospital nurses. In the case of QRG Central hospital, many nurses are getting even less than their colleagues in AIMS (Faridabad). In both hospitals the nurses’ salaries are inflated on paper by including a vague category called Company Total Cost/CTC (which includes PF, gratuity, ESI health-card fee, etc.). The actual salary received in hand/basic salary is, of course, much lower than what is officially declared by the management on paper. In fact, the hospitals conveniently fool hapless nurses into work contracts by projecting higher salaries on paper. When asked to explain the exact functioning of the CTC, management of private hospitals across the board deny any proper explanation.
In Delhi and NCR region where rents are high, such salaries hardly enable the nurses to make ends meet. It is shocking that hospitals which earn huge profits on a yearly basis are unwilling to reward their nursing staff a fair wage and regular salary increments. While addressing the striking nurses, activists from the women’s organization, Centre For Struggling Women (CSW), Workers’ Unity Centre (WUCI), and Nurses Welfare Association encouraged the nurses to stand by their genuine demands like hiking the basic salary released, and paying the nurses salaries which hare in parity with those of government hospital nurses. CSW member also encouraged the nurses to unite the larger nursing community on the demand for a wage-board. The wage board would ensure some regulation of the salaries paid in private hospitals.
The other grave problem highlighted by the striking nurses is the manner in which they are assigned extra duties for which they are not paid adequately. For example, after performing eight hours of duty, the nurses are often forced to perform another 8 hours of duty. Furthermore, the aforementioned private hospitals exercise a skewed nurse-to-patient ratio. In violation of the World Health Organization’s norms, the nurses in Asian Hospital (AIMS) are assigned up to 3 to 4 ICU patients (the WHO recommended ratio being 1 nurse to 1 or 2 ICU patients). And after performing double duties back to back, the nurses do not receive compensation based on given rules on overtime payment. The nurses of QRG Central hospital explained how, in violation with laws pertaining to overtime payment, the management pays them even less than the normal duty’s rate for the additional 6-8 hours shift performed by them.
What is most disturbing is the way in which the issue of the striking nurses are being skirted continuously. For example, despite being intimated of the nurses’ issues, the Deputy Labour Commissioner and Labour Office have failed to intervene. Even after communicating their demands to the Chief Minister, no intervention or probe by the CM’s office has followed, thereby once again exposing the pro-management stance of the Haryana Government. As expected, the local thana has been actively involved in harassing the young nurses, and has forcefully pushed the strikers to from putting up a tent even at a distance of the stipulated 100 meters issued via a court order. Of course, seeing the nurses’ determination to continue their struggle, the Deputy Labour Commissioner’s (DL) office has suddenly swung into force. However, the nurses have complained that the DL has only been verbally threatening them than amicably trying to arbitrate between the two parties. The connivance between the Deputy Labour Commissioner and the management of QRG Central hospital has, in fact, ensured that the striking nurses are forced to sit far away (200 meters distance) from the hospital whereas the rule is generally 100 meters only. This reflects both the state administration and hospital management’s desire to conceal the genuine issues of the nurses from the patients and larger public.
Furthermore, the management of AIMS and QRG Hospital has resorted to several illegal practices like replacing the striking nurses with nursing students who are not qualified to practice, and by making ward attendants perform certain nursing duties like applying injections to sick patients. This measure is not only illegal but also detrimental to the interests of the admitted patients. In addition to this the hospital management of AIMS has also indulged in filthy practices like sending bouncers late at night to the nurses’ hostel on 8th May. Today on 11th morning, again certain senior hospital staff in AIMS forcefully dragged three nurses into the hospital. The three nurses, however, refused to stay and left the hospital shortly to join their striking colleagues. In the evening bouncers hired by the hospital kept encircling the striking nurses in their vehicle. Four of the bouncers again entered the nurses’ hostel on 11th evening and took photographs of the nurses inside the hostel. Worried about their safety and unsure of the extent to which the bouncers will go, the nurses submitted a written complaint at the local police station.
Standing up to the various intimidation tactics of the hospitals’ management, the nurses of both hospitals have decided to continue their strike till all the striking nurses are re-employed. With nothing to lose, the nurses are standing together in unity.
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association
Workers Unity Centre
Centre For Struggling Women
Note: This is an updated version of the release that was published earlier.