AIIMS Patna’s 700 contract nurses call off strike, resume work
The 700-striking contractual nurses of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna, have called off their stir and joined work on Friday after the institute cracked the whip and 11 non-regular nursing staff was sacked by a Delhi-based placement agency that had hired them.
“The contractual nurses’ strike is over and they have resumed work,” said Dr. Prabhat Kumar Singh, director, AIIMS-Patna.
Dr. Singh played hardball by forcing the placement agency to provide a back-up replacement within 12 hours of the stir and allowing the firm to take stern action against the agitating nurses.
He also threatened to recommend to the respective state nursing councils for cancellation of registration of the agitating contractual healthcare staff.
Dr. Singh had quickly moved to end the stir on Thursday evening, as he took Udai Singh Kumawat, state principal secretary, health, into confidence and petitioned the Bihar Nurses Registration Council, seeking an advisory be issued against the adamant contractual nurses.
Dr. Singh’s warning compelled the representatives of the striking nurses to hold talks on Friday with a single-point agenda.
They wanted the reinstatement of the services of those, who had been terminated on Thursday by the placement agency following the stir.
Dr. Singh acceded to their proposal.
“We have taken back the termination order, which was served to some of our nursing staff on Friday evening,” said Rajiv Kumar of Bedi & Bedi Associates, the outsourcing firm that has been supplying the contractual nurses to the institute for the past four years.
“However, it’s up to the AIIMS management to consider their demands,” said Kumar.
On Thursday, the agitating contractual nurses had struck work demanding regularisation, pay parity, and healthcare facilities, akin to the regular nursing staff.
They had also demanded preference for permanent job openings in the near future.
However, the AIIMS-Patna management is not willing to yield to their other demands.
“We are offering a similar consolidated monthly remuneration of Rs 39,000, as compared to other contractual nursing staff engaged by various AIIMS across the country. We are paying more, as AIIMS-Jodhpur is paying Rs 28,000 a month to their contractual nurses,” Kumar said.
He also put to rest the example of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, which is offering contractual nurses a consolidated monthly lump sum of Rs 52,000.
“The AIIMS-Bhubaneswar example doesn’t hold good because they have been directly hired by the institute on contract and not via an outsourced agency as is the case with Patna,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, the institute’s regular nursing staff had apprised the top echelons of the hospital management that patient care had been adversely affected because of their contractual counterpart’s stir.
On July 10, the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government had declared AIIMS-Patna a dedicated Covid-19 facility.
At present, around 380 Covid-19 patients are undergoing treatment, including 30 on ventillator support, said Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, nodal officer for Covid-19, AIIMS-Patna.
The institute is a 1,100-bed capacity. It recently scaled up its Covid-19 infrastructure from 400 to 600 beds and intensive care unit (ICU) beds from 40 to 60.
“We are planning to ramp up ICU beds to 80 shortly,” said Dr. Singh.