AIIMS Patna contract nursing staff on strike for pay hike
At least 400 contract nursing staff of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Patna went on a flash strike on Thursday demanding pay hike and job security.
The strike hampered the treatment of patients at the hospital, which is one of the two dedicated government facilities in the state for treating those infected with the coronavirus.
The male and female contract nurses left their workstations in the morning and moved to the main gate of the hospital where they raised slogans demanding pay hike, job security, preference while selecting permanent staff and facilities similar to permanent nurses.
Later, the protesting nursing staff stepped away from the main gate and stood on the side of the road close to the hospital.
“We were hired on contract basis from a private placement company Bedi and Bedi Associates as staff nurses and nursing officers over the last six years. We have been here since AIIMS Patna started functioning. We have been a party in the hospital’s development. We appeal to the management to consider us as members of the AIIMS Patna family,” a nurse told The Telegraph.
AIIMS Patna is the only facility where MPs, MLAs, MLCs and bureaucrats are undergoing treatment.
The hospital administration held a discussion with the representatives of the striking employees and appealed to them to return to work. The administration said the nursing staff would be given an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh if anything happens to them while discharging their duty in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. However, the striking nurses did not resume work and said that they will do so only after all their demands were met.
Doctors engaged in the treatment of coronavirus patients said the strike had created more hardships in a situation when everybody was busy in handling Covid-19 cases.
“We are facing difficulties in patient care due to the strike but we are managing with our own resources. The situation is tough but we are carrying on our work of treating Covid-19 patients. The striking nurses are demanding that they should be made permanent, but that is not possible as they are outsourced employees,” AIIMS Patna superintendent C.M. Singh said.
Hospital director Prabhat Kumar Singh said the sudden strike by the contractual nursing staff was a “blackmailing approach” to get their demands accepted.
“The contractual nurses went on strike without any notice. They are thinking that during the Covid-19 pandemic they can blackmail us into accepting everything. They want us to make them permanent nurses without any selection process and want agreements to be signed that they will not be removed from our hospital for 10 years. How can we accept these demands?” he asked.
He said that there were around 250 permanent nurses at the hospital and the treatment of patients was being managed with their help.