Over 1500 contract nurses working in government run health centers of Tamilnadu went on an indefinite hunger strike at DMS complex, Thenampet, Chennai starting on 29th of January, 2016. They are demanding regularization of their work. Earlier, both in September 2015 and November 2015, nurses had launched agitations around this same demand. Each time, the authorities, after promising to fulfil the demands of the nurses, have betrayed their promises.This is the background in which nurses have been forced to come from all over Tamilnadu to Chennai for yet another agitation.
More than 10,000 male and female nurses are working on contract basis all over Tamilnadu under government run health centers including Primary Health centers, government headquarters hospitals, government medical college hospitals, etc. 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 have completed more than seven years of service, and 3500 have completed five years of service. However these nurses are still working as contractual staff.
Key Demands of Nurses
The hunger strike of the nurses was addressed amongst others by Com. Kabilan of Thozhilalar Ottrumai Iyakkam (Workers Unity Movement). In his speech, Com Kabilan extended full support of Workers Unity Movement to the struggle of the nurses and their just demands for regularization of their jobs. 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, 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. Working class cannot accept this unjust, exploitative and criminal contract mode of employment. Recalling recent past experiences of nurses with the authorities, he hailed the fighting mood of the nurses. On behalf of Workers Unity Movement, he assured whole hearted support for the nurses in their struggle for permanency and other rights.
On the second day of the hunger strike after many nurses fainted and were admitted to emergency wards of various hospitals, negotiations were held with the government authorities. Over 50 activists of the nurses union took part in the discussions with the authorities. They explained the terrible working and living conditions of contract nurses and demanded immediate order of permanency from the government. Following the assurances from the authorities to settle the demands of the nurses immediately, the union decided to temporarily halt the agitation. At the same time, the nurses have issued a warning that if the authorities try delaying tactics, they would resume their struggle with immediate effect.
LRS, Tamilnadu Correspondent