The nurses and paramedics of the country’s top medical facility AIIMS have gone for an indefinite strike citing 23 long-standing demands, including a salary hike and a halt on the hiring of contractual staff. It may be mentioned that the strike comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic when patients need extra care.
Visuals by NDTV show a ward of critical patients without nurses – there are only attendants of the patients.
Due to the same, the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) today made an emotional appeal to its 5,000-strong nursing staff which in the afternoon declared the indefinite strike.
“I am very proud of the AIIMS family for the tremendous work done during the COVID-19…the nation is proud. Unfortunately, at this time of pandemic, the nurses’ union has gone on strike,” AIIMS Director Prof Randeep Guleria said in a video message to the AIIMS Nurses Union.
“The nurses’ union had put in 23 demands. Almost all the demands have been met by the AIIMS administration and the government,” he added.
He also evoked Florence Nightingale whose 200th anniversary is being celebrated by the WHO by naming the year 2020 “The International Year Of The Nurse and The Midwife”.
“This year we celebrate 200 years of Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, who worked tirelessly. Today we look at the nurses to work tirelessly for those who suffered during the pandemic,” he said.
According to NDTV, a spokesperson of the AIIMS Nurse union said that the nurses had been making these demands for a long time. Last year, the government had reportedly called them to a meeting and assured a solution to their issues, only to procrastinate indefinitely.
“Till recently, we were told our demands were being considered. Key among them were the Sixth Pay Commission’s payouts and the hiring of contractual workers. Now we’ve been informed that interviews were held just today to recruit contractual workers,” Fameer CK, General Secretary of the AIIMS Nurses Union said.
“We have utmost respect for Prof Randeep Guleria. But if he claims all our demands have already been met, then what were all the recent assurances about?” he asked.