No incentives, long duty hours, say nurses as 60 SPS Hospital staffers go on strike

Updated on Aug 09, 2020 10:41 PM IST

Nurses allege they are doing double shifts, wear PPE kits for 12 hours which prevents them from going to the toilet or drinking water; and have not been given ₹200 for Covid duty as promised

Nurses protesting against long duty hours and other grievances at SPS Hospital in Ludhiana on Sunday.(HT Photo)
Nurses protesting against long duty hours and other grievances at SPS Hospital in Ludhiana on Sunday.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Ludhiana

Over a 60 staffers, including ward boys and nursing attendants of SPS Hospital here went on strike on Sunday to protest against long working hours and non-payment of incentives for Covid duty and raised slogans against the hospital authorities.

Even as patients were inconvenienced, hospital authorities said they were following government orders and had informed the district authorities about the matter.

The employees accused the human resource (HR) department of the hospital for violating labour rights and alleged that they are being made to work for over 12 hours wearing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits during which they could not use the toilet or drink water.

They said promises to pay each nurse Rs200 extra for Covid-19 duty had not been honoured. Not just that, “Our carry home salary, which is a mere 13,000 after deduction, is getting delayed,” said Jaipreet, one of the protesting nurses.

A majority of nurses were working in double shifts. At times just two nurses were handling nearly 15 patients, many of them on ventilators. Many nurses have tested positive while treating the patients, claimed Jaipreet.

The change of duty roster proved to be the latest trigger as nurses were asked to perform two morning, two evening and two night duties in a week.

When the nurses did not want the changes incorporated they were “ made to go from one department to another. After no one listened to our demand we were left with no option but stage a protest,” said two other nurses Gurpreet and Harpreet Kaur.

‘No talks with authorities’

When asked to comment, medical superintendent Dr Rajiv Kundra said that instead of talking to the authorities and trying to resolve the issue, the nursing staff went on strike.

“No one approached us and tried to resolve the issue,” he added, saying the roster had been changed following government directions.

“The authorities have directed us to accommodate more Covid patients. So we made changes in the roster and used the staff deployed on non- productive duties for the treatment of Covid patients. As nurses have gone on strike against the new arrangement, we have informed the officials of the district administration to look into the matter,” said Dr Kundra.

Civil surgeon Dr Rajesh Bagga said as staging a protest violated the Epidemic Act, “I urge the staff and hospital authorities to resolve the matter amicably.”

A number of patients, meanwhile, were inconvenienced due to the strike.

Kulwinder Kaur said her father-in-law who suffered from renal problems could not get his regular dialysis at the hospital. “ My father- in- law was not feeling well today so we rushed him to the hospital, but the hospital authorities refused to admit him and asked us to take him to another hospital. Even the doctor is not answering our call. In such a situation where shall we go?” she asked.

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