Nurses, ward boys and other paramedical staff will go on indefinite strike from July 14 if the they are not paid revised salaries as per the Sixth Pay Commission.
More than 1,000 of such workers from the three major civic hospitals — KEM, Nair and Sion — staged demonstrations on Friday afternoon. The workers’ and nurses’ union representatives served notices to the deans of all three hospitals warning that they will go on indefinite strike if the BMC does not meet their demand.
Patients were not inconvenienced as the staff stopped work for only two to three hours.
The unions were particularly displeased because the BMC had implemented the salary hike for doctors last November but has still not done the same for other staff.
“Nurses, ward boys and other staff are as important for the functioning of a hospital as are doctors. It is not fair for the BMC to revise the salary of doctors but not that of others,” Pradeep Narkar, who heads the Municipal Mazdoor Union.
He added that around 20,000 people working in the major hospitals, 16 suburban hospitals and all dispensaries and health posts run by the BMC health department would go on an indefinite strike starting July 13 if their demand is not met.
If the staff does go on strike, it could cripple the public hospitals, which are already short-staffed and overburdened with patients suffering from monsoon-related ailments.
Dr Sanjay Oak, director of the major hospitals, said he was not in a position to comment on the issue as it was a “policy decision” which would be considered by the BMC authorities. “Personally, I do think that the staff should gets its due,” he said.
Currently, the starting salary for nurses in BMC hospitals is Rs 15,000 and the average salary for ward boys/sweepers is around Rs 10,000. If the Sixth Pay Commission is implemented, they will earn Rs 23,000 and Rs 15,000 respectively. They will also be entitled to gratuity and education allowance of up to Rs 2,000 for two children per month, as per the commission’s recommendations.