Private hospital nurses still struggling for pay hike

By Naomi N Published on Aug 01, 2018 03:50 PM IST

Chennai: After holding a mass protest, the government contract nurses got their demand for a higher pay fulfilled.

The agitation by 3,000 nurses in front of the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services (DMS) in Teynampet nine months ago for three days, yielded them a monthly salary of Rs 14,000, compared to the earlier Rs 7,700.

The government also assured a Rs 500 hike on a yearly basis. But private nurses continue to reel under work pressure and a measly pay. They have a number of hurdles to cross before hearing the final decision on their pay.

News Today spoke to IMA Nursing Home Board chairman, Dr M Balasubramaniam, who said, "For the contract nurses this is a good hike. The private hospital nurses come under the Minimum Wages Act. But due to a stay order in the case, it is being delayed. The nurses are demanding 300 per cent hike, which comes to Rs 21,000 - basic pay of Rs 16,000 and DA of Rs 5,000."

The hospitals are willing to give only a salary of Rs 16,000 per month.

Balasubramanian said, "Nurses comprise the largest work force in a hospital. They are required on all three shifts and a huge salary is not possible to be given by smaller private hospitals."

However, despite the Minimum Wages Act and a directive from the Labour Department, private hospitals are up against its implementation.

C Mukundan, who has been working in a private hospital in the city for 11 years, says, "We are still waiting for the implementation of a fair wage. Post the mass protest, a Government Order was passed. Even that was not adhered by to them. We gave them a couple of months to act on it and decide on the wages, but they did not arrive at any conclusion. This shows that they can't do it."

Nurses, he said, work for long hours, up to a mandatory 12 hours when on night duty and at times longer than that.

Another nurse from a private hospital said, "We are getting a salary lower than the Labour Department's decision of a minimum pay. Hospitals do not follow rules. For example, there are specific guidelines for pay when it comes to the number of beds in a hospital and for the patient-nurse ratio. But we continue to be overworked."