Chandigarh nurses call for fair wages, insurance on International Nurses Day
On International Nurses Day, on Tuesday, nurses employed with National Health Mission (NHM) in Chandigarh, poured out their woes and hardships they are facing. On the frontline in the war against Covid-19, NHM employees are seeking fair wages and insurance covers.
After 10 years of service as an ANM (auxiliary nursing & midwifery) nurse with the UT health department, Rishu gets ₹11,000 in hand. She has two daughters and the salary falls hopelessly inadequate. Yet, she has no choice but to carry on. A Kalka resident, Rishu is among the hundreds on the frontline placing their lives at risk in the epidemic. “I was part of the team that surveyed Bapu Dham Colony for three days. Then I was posted in the survey team of Sector 30 (containment zone), Hallomajra and Mauli Jagran,” she said.
“We are deputed for night duty without any relaxation from the next day’s shift. There were days when after a 9am to 3pm shift, I work another shift from 5pm to 7am. Then without a break, I have to report for duty at 9am,” she said.
Rishu, who comes from Kalka, is also finding it arduous and demanding to commute. She must hitch a ride to her work station as no public transport is available. “We give our 100% to our work, but we get no additional support from the health department. No transportation, no encouragement. Our salaries are dreadfully meagre. I joined at ₹5,500 in 2009 and today I get only ₹11,000 in hand.”
Slamming the UT admin, staff nurse Babita Rawat, who is posted at the civil hospital in Sector 22, said, “They call us corona warriors, but what have they done for its warriors? Nothing. I am working as a staff nurse with the UT health department since 2010. I am paid only ₹16,000 while those employed on contract are getting around ₹28,000.”
She said, “Give us suitable salaries, so we can look after our families and at least provide us insurance cover to secure our families financially in case something happens to us on duty during the epidemic.”
Highlighting the issue, Amit Kumar, general secretary of CNEU (Chandigarh NHM Employees Union), said the staff will wearing black ribbons during duty hours to observe a black day on May 13. The main issue is the inadequate salaries he said, adding that a NHM nurse draws ₹9,000 to ₹11,000, while the outsourced cadre and regular employees draw ₹28,000 to ₹75,000 respectively.