Hospitals in Surat and Vadodra are chocked with COVID patients. Now, they are facing a new crisis as about 600 members of the nursing association began an indefinite strike on Tuesday, May 18, over unfulfillment of pending issues, including wages and contracts. The strike has affected the work in COVID dedicated wards of civil hospitals, reported The Indian Express.
In Vadodara's SSG Hospital, nurses gathered outside the office of the medical superintendent and shouted slogans against the government.
The situation got intense after hospital administration deputed staff from the Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS)-run Gotri hospital to assist in the COVID-19 ward.
The authorities also called in the students of nursing colleges of the district, who had joined the protest.
The nursing staff began shouting slogans against the principal of the college and denied resuming duty until the deputed students were sent back.
"They are trying to pit nursing students against nursing staff, which is not good. Unless they recall the nursing students, we will not resume duty. We have been working tirelessly since the outbreak of the pandemic, leaving our families behind. There is a valid reason why we are on strike," the media quoted Vadodara association head Sheetal Rajput as saying.
The principal sent the students for duty under police protection. Another issue that the staff raised is the non-provision of a stipend to these nursing students, who have been assisting in various extended COVID-19 facilities.
"If they are not recalled, we will not raise the issue of their stipend with the government," Rajput added.
Nurses across Gujarat have been protesting for a long time for the payment of salaries, allowances, termination of the contract system, and filling of vacancies. "The government does not give any importance to the nursing staff. The strike will continue till the outstanding issues are resolved," the association head said.
Surat saw 400 protesters. The staff was threatened with being charged under the Epidemic Disease Act. Surat association head Dinesh Agrawal said that the strike would continue until the demands are met.
The association has raised concerns with the government several times, but no concrete solution was given. "Around 407 nursing staff and 100 nursing students are on strike. However, keeping in mind the pandemic situation and the cyclone, 25 nursing staff have been kept on standby," Agrawal told the media.