Nearly 220 contractual nursing staff in Hyderabad's Gandhi Hospital, Telangana’s nodal centre for the treatment of COVID-19, launched an indefinite strike on Saturday, July 11, demanding regularisation of their jobs and increase in salaries at par with newly recruited nursing staff. For the last two months, health workers--who have been at the frontline in combating COVID-19 pandemic--have held numerous protest demonstrations demanding job security, protection at work and decent wages among others.
In their representation to the Health Minister Eatala Rajender, the outsourcing nurses pointed out that they have been getting only Rs 15,000 per month after deductions as wages for the last 13 years since their recruitment in 2007. Last month, over 250 junior doctors and house surgeons protested for three days demanding decentralisation of COVID-19 treatment, enhancing security for the healthcare workers and increasing additional staff.
The protesting nurses are arguing that the state government is offering Rs 25,000 to Rs 28,000 salaries to the newly recruited nurses while undermining their long pending demand for regularisation of their work.
Around 200 nurses of COVID_19 exclusive Gandhi hospital in Hyderabad protesting demanding regularisation of their services and also a hike in salary. @Eatala_Rajender @kishanreddybjp pic.twitter.com/tdH5Z9ZSvg
— Saif Ali 📷 (@saif_Camerapixo) July 11, 2020
“For the last four months, these staff nurses have been at the forefront in serving COVID-19 positive patients taking meagre wages. It is time for the government to recognise their services and regularise their jobs,” said Bhupal, State President, United Medical and Health Employees Union, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). He told NewsClick that the government has failed in building confidence in the frontline workers despite them facing the brunt of the spikes in the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
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As on July 10, Telangana has reported 32,224 COVID-19 positive cases, of which 12,680 are active cases and 339 have died of the disease.
Bhupal added that the health workers across the state will intensify their protests if the state government fails to address the grievances of the frontline workers.
Since the outbreak of the virus, over 300 doctors and healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus in the state.
Megha Bellapurla, the president of outsourcing nursing staff association at Gandhi hospital told Indian Express that 80 nurses have been detained by the police on Friday and later released when they went to give representation of their demands to the director of medical education (DME) office in Hyderabad.
On Thursday, contract and outsourcing employees of the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) hospital protested demanding release of their salaries, which have been pending since the past several months. Subsequently, senior officials of the hospital assured the workers that they will ensure their contractors will pay their wages.