In India, nationwide support for Nurses' Strike at KVM Hospital in Kerala

13 April 2018
On 6 April, the United Nurses Association (UNA) released an open letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan that demands a fair resolution to the industrial dispute at KVM Hospital in Cherthala, Alappuzha. For more than 6 months, nurses from KVM have been on an indefinite strike demanding for statutory wages and better working conditions. UNA is the union representing the KVM nurses.

The letter, submitted to the Chief Minister's office in Thiruvanathapuram, was initiated by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a major nation-wide platform of 21 national networks and organisations committed to the right to health. With presence in almost all states in the country, these networks cover over 1000 organisations.

Dr. Amit Sengupta, JSA co-convenor said, “the management of KVM has refused the unions call for dialogue, those of the Labour Commissioner, as well as the mediation attempts by the High Court of Kerala. This is a rogue management with no regard for the law.”

The demands of the workers are that the Kerala State wage revisions of 2013 be fully implemented, statutory benefits paid, statutory work-load hours respected, and the reinstatement of 112 nurses unfairly dismissed for taking part in a peaceful and lawful industrial action.

“We stand in solidarity with UNA and the workers that have shown incredible determination in this struggle”, said V Narasimhan General Secretary of the All India National Life Insurance Employees Federation. “We salute the strength and commitment of UNA leaders such as Jiji Jacob, UNA KVM unit President, who held a hunger strike in support of the workers struggle.”, he added

“The long drawn out dispute at KVM is creating immense hardship for workers of the hospital, who are mostly women, as well as the public”, said Dr. Imrana Qadeer, former Professor of public health at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Out of 112 unfairly dismissed workers, 107 are women.

“The nature of the demands put forth by UNA is to respect the law. This is an issue on which all unions can come together. If the management of KVM cannot agree, the government should intervene”, concluded Qadeer, among the signatories to the letter.

Groups including National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM), People's Budget Initiative and Public Services International (PSI) South Asia, have also endorsed the letter.

The letter calls on the Government to intervene in the affairs of the hospital and “appoint a care-taker management as an interim measure to ensure that the rights of the workers and the public interest is protected.”

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