Madras HC Strikes Down Contract Nurses’ Protests, Terms It Illegal
The nurses have been on strike since Monday, affecting private and government health discharge in the city.
The Madras High Court on Wednesday declared the stir by some Nurses' associations as illegal and restrained them from taking recourse to strike.
"Strike called by persons, who are engaged in providing essential services, calls for stern action. We thus deem it appropriate to declare the strike as illegal," the court said, posting the matter for further hearing on 2 January.
The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, passed an interim order restraining the Tamil Nadu MRB Nurses Empowerment Association and MRB Nurses Welfare Association from taking recourse to strike.
The bench was passing interim orders on a petition from N Ganesh.
It made it clear that any member of these two associations refraining from attending to work or performing duty should do so at his/her risk of consequences thereof, including termination of their employment and/or penalisation for gross contempt of court.
Once the members of these two associations resume their work, the state health and family welfare department or its representatives shall immediately start and resume negotiations for immediate improvement of the service conditions, and in particular enhancement of remuneration paid to the nurses appointed under a scheme, the bench added.
The contract-based nurses in Chennai have been up in arms for the last three days, protesting against the government’s reportedly ‘unfair’ treatment regarding their pay scale.
The protesting contract-based nurses, over 3,000 in number, are demanding they be paid on a similar scale as the permanent nurses after two years, irrespective of their elevation.
The contract-based nurses are generally recruited by the Medical Recruitment Board (MRB) across India after an entrance test.
They are regularised on the pay scale after a duration of two years, based on seniority and vacancies. The elevation to permanent employment, however, is not guaranteed.
The Quint has learnt that while contract-based nurses earns unto Rs 7,700 per month, the regal pay scale is Rs 45,000 per month. The protesting nurses opine that given that they put in almost the same amount of work as the permanent employees, their pay too should be hiked on grounds of ‘dignity of labour’.
The nurses have been on strike since Monday, affecting private and government health discharge in the city. While the press was initially barred from covering the protests, they have now been allowed to enter the Directorate of Medical Services (DMS) campus to speak to the protestors.
Meanwhile, representatives from the nurses’ association met State Health Minister Vijay Bhaskar on Tuesday, who assured their demands will be met, step by step. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle over the ongoing protests, S Aishwarya, joint secretary of the MRB Nurses’ Empowerment Association said:
We had placed our demands in front of the authorities more than a month ago regarding the regularisation of services with a time-scale pay on an eight-hour shift basis.
While one section of the protesting nurses decided to call off the protests, another section is adamant to continue with the protests till they receive a confirmation in writing.
(With inputs from PTI, Deccan Chronicle.)
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