Over 1500 government contract nurses of Tamilnadu went on an indefinite hunger strike at DMS complex, Teynampet, Chennai staring on 29th of January, 2016 demanding regularization of their work. This struggle was organized and led by Tamilnadu Government Contract Nurses Welfare Association. In last September and again in November contract nurses have fought with the same demands, but promises given by the authorities have not been met, forcing them to come enmass from all over Tamilnadu on yet another agitation now.
More than 10,000 male and female nurses are working on contract basis all over TN under state government hospitals such as Primary Health centers, government headquarters hospitals, government medical college hospitals and various other health institutions. They have been promised regular appointment on completion of 3 years of services on contract. However this has not been fulfilled. Over 2000 of these nurses said to have completed more than seven years of service under contract.
Key demands of these contract nurses
- All those 3500 contract nurses who are working over 5 years should be made permanent with immediate effect.
- In primary health centers, contract nurses are forced to work over 12 hours a day. Hence for each center, the permanent nurse positions should be increased to a minimum of 6.
- Grant and appoint adequate number of nurses as per the recommendations of Medical council of India, in line with the inpatient and out patient counts.
- Nurses are taken on contract with the assurance that they would be regularized after 3 years of service. This must be honoured by making all the nurses with 3 or more years of services, permanent.
- It is the hard work and dedication of the nurses which provides care for our patients. Their welfare must be looked after by the government without any delay.
Various Trade union leaders and activists belonging to AITUC, Tamilnadu Arasu Paniyalar Sangam, Samooga Samathuva Maruthuvargal Sangam, Indhiya Madhar Sangam, Thozhilar Ottrumai Iyakkam, CPI, National Federation of Telecom Employees, AIBEA and others extended full support to the struggle of the nurses and their just demands for regularization of their jobs. They mentioned that all over the country there is acute shortage of nursing staff exists. If the government is really serious about providing good health care for the people of this country, it must not only ensure better working conditions for the existing nurses such as permanency and higher wages, good working conditions, etc, it should also open more hospitals all over the country to ensure high quality of this vital service for our people.
It is a shame on the government of Tamilnadu that it did not provide permanent appointments for the young nurses and brutally exploited them for over 5 years! As per the labour law of this land, any work of permanent nature must not be on contract basis and must be made permanent. However government itself violates the law. Or is the government considers the health care as a temporary service to fool the masses for the time being and does not consider it as one of its key duties on going basis? It is the same government and its arms which permit large scale contract labour and casuals in all public sector companies, Railways as well as in private companies. Working class cannot accept this unjust, exploitative and criminal contract mode of employment. Recalling recent past experiences of nurses with the authorities, they supported the mood of the nurses not to give up the struggle till their demands are fully accepted and order issued in writing.
After many nurses fainted and were admitted to emergency wards of various hospitals, on the second day of the hunger strike, negotiations were held with the Medical authorities. From Union side Com.S.Gunasekaran, MLA (CPI) & Honorary President of the union, Com.A.E.Paluchamy – All India State Government Employees Federation, Com. M.Vasanthi – President, Com.R.Marimuthu – Vice president, Com.R.Ramalatchumi – General Secretary and Com.N.Nagajothi – Treasurer of Tamilnadu Government Contract Nurses Welfare Association and over 50 other nurses and activists took part in the discussion with the authorities. They expressed the pathetic condition of contract nurses to the authorities. They demanded immediate order of permanency from the government.
However authorities as usual claimed to be sympathetic and promised that they would issue an order for permanency for some nurses soon and the rest will also be finalized sooner. After discussions, union has decided to give some more time as demanded by the authorities and postponed their struggle for few more days. Nurses and Union are very determined that if the government fails to issue order and dilly dally the issue, then they would resume their struggle sooner.