More than 1,200 nurses in Uttarakhand went on mass leave on Friday to protest against the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations but health services remained unaffected thanks to the state government’s backup plan, officials said.
The nurses went on a one-day mass casual leave as a part of a nationwide agitation called by the All India Government Nurses Federation to protest against the reduction in their allowances by the pay commission and demand an increased grade pay in salaries.
Nurses said the pay commission did not increase the pay band and merged different types of allowances provided to them into one, reducing the overall amount received under those heads.
“We have asked for increasing the entry pay grade of staff nurses to Rs 5,400 per month from Rs 4,600. Our other demands include increment in nursing allowance, uniform and washing allowance, night duty allowance and time-bound promotion,” said Lakshmi Punetha, the spokesperson of the Uttarakhand Nurses’ Association.
“The Seventh Pay Commission has also failed to recommend provision of risk allowance to us despite the fact that we work in infectious conditions day in and day out,” said Punetha.
A delegation of 40 nurses from the state joined the nurses’ national protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The Friday casual mass leave by government nurses across the state will be followed by an indefinite strike from March 15 if the Central government does not consider their demands.
At the Doon Government Medical College Hospital, around 180 nurses remained on mass leave.
“To make up for the absence of nurses, we had deployed pharmacists and nursing students as a backup option in the hospitals so there was no major impact of the nurses’ mass leave,” said Dr KK Tamta, medical superintendent of the Doon Govt Medical College Hospital.