New Delhi: The strike by nurses of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi entered the second day on Tuesday, with the hospital authorities inviting them for talks on the one hand, and the Delhi High Court restraining them from going on strike, on the other. Till the time of writing, talks were on between the nurses’ union and the AIIMS authorities.
Around 3,000-5,000 nurses, referred to as ‘corona warriors’ for risking their lives amid the pandemic, went on strike on Monday with the union, in a letter to AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, blaming the administration’s “callous attitude towards the nurses” behind their reason for the strike. They have listing 23 pending demands, including clarity on salary structure and a stop to contractual appointments.
“Our union is ready for talks with the administration. We’re feeling bad for patients but we’re helpless as our demands haven’t been met. We had given notice for a strike a month ago but even then, the administration didn’t listen to our demands,” Harish Kajla, president, AIIMS nurses’ union, told news agency ANI on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday restrained the nurses union from continuing the strike. The AIIMS authorities approached the court after the Health Ministry nudged the AIIMS director Randeep Guleria to ensure no disruption of hospital services, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier, in a video message, Guleria, citing patient neglect, said the strike was “inappropriate and unfortunate” in the times of pandemic while appealing to nurses to return to work.
The union president, however put the onus patient distress on the AIIMS authorities and the government.
Speaking with IANS, he said “the hospital is playing with patients' safety and rights of the nurses with contractual hiring. We are totally against it and would not back down till the decision is rolled back."
The union said the indefinite strike would continue till their demands were met.
"Since last year, we have been constantly approaching the hospital with our demands after the government assured us that they will be accepted shortly. We were also assured by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan last year that our major demands, which include correction of an anomaly in the fixation of the initial pay as per the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC), and abolishment of contractual appointments of nursing officers, would be soon accepted. However, nothing moved in the last one year," the union president was quoted as saying by IANS.
As per reports, the nurses were to go on strike from Wednesday but the sine the hospital decided to start contractual hiring, they were “forced” to strike work immediately.