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BMCRI not to reinstate striking contract nurses

Bangalore, Feb 18, 2013 dhns: 1:15 IST
determined: Nurses working on contract basis stage a protest at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI)  premises in Bangalore on Monday. DH Photo
The indefinite strike by contract nurses took a dramatic turn on Monday with the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) deciding to relieve 409 of them from service.

At the governing council (GC) meeting, chaired by Medical Education Minister S A Ramdas on Saturday, the council members unanimously decided not to reinstate contract nurses.
They said the nurses had continued to boycott work for more than a month despite requests to rejoin duty. The members also said the nurses had filed a writ petition seeking a stay on the notification issued by the government to recruit nurses and non-teaching staff.

The nurses have been on strike since the first week of January demanding regularisation of service.

In the wake of the decision to sack the nurses, the BMCRI, as a precautionary measure, has deployed police personnel on its campus and banned entry of journalists and the striking nurses.

Dr O S Siddappa, dean and director of BMCRI, told reporters that the institute would hire 84 BSc nursing students for a period of one year. “We cannot fill all the 400-odd vacancies immediately. We have requested the Jayadeva, Kidwai and Indira Gandhi hospitals to depute nurses on a temporary basis,” he said.

Members of the BMCRI Stipendiary Staff Nurses’ Welfare Association or the contract nurses have also applied for the 600 vacant posts called for by the government. Although most of the contract nurses have practical experience, many are not sure they would get through the recruitment process.

“We completed our studies six years ago and do not remember much of the theory part. Although we have experience, it looks like BMCRI will not count our years of service during fresh recruitment,” said Shivakumar, one of the striking nurses. A tearful Parimala, another nurse, said, “If the government takes such a sudden decision to throw us out, where will our children go? We also have to take care of our parents’ needs.”

Contract nurses have been camping outside the BMCRI campus for the past six days fearing their services would be terminated.

S Balan, advocate and workers’ union leader, said as the matter was before the High Court and the Labour Commission, the BMCRI cannot sack the nurses as per the Industrial Disputes Act.

“First of all, hiring nurses on contract is prohibited under labour laws. And deciding to not reinstate them without notice is illegal. We are looking into the matter,” he said.
Services paralysed

Victoria, Vani Vilas, Minto and Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospitals remained partially paralysed on Monday, with only 50 per cent of the staff working on double shifts.
Burdened by extra work, over 150 regular staff nurses at Victoria Hospital sought additional staff from the Medical Superintendent (MS). The MS has assured them more nurses would be hired shortly.

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