AIIMS Nurses' Union protests over working conditions; 329 workers contracted COVID-19 so far

Last Updated : 03 June 2020, 18:23 IST
Last Updated : 03 June 2020, 18:23 IST

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The AIIMS Nurses' Union, which has been protesting for the last three days over its members' poor working conditions, on Wednesday warned the administration that they will go on strike if their concerns are not addressed, as the number of workers infected by COVID-19 at the hospital here rose to 329 including 47 nursing staff.

The nurses' body had put forth a number of demands including implementation of a uniform four-hour shift with personal protective equipment in COVID-19 areas of the Centre-run hospital, a uniform rotation policy between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 areas, and establishment of proper donning and doffing area.

In a fresh mail sent to AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, the Nurses Union said that no heed has been paid to letters and regular representations in task force meetings conveying the plight of COVID-19 healthcare workers.

"At this difficult juncture, the aggrieved nurses of AIIMS have decided to carry on with our protest until the administration pays enough heed... we are still left unheard by the AIIMS authorities. So we have been forced to resort to severe steps including mass casual leave on June 10 and still if our issues persist, we have decided to go for indefinite strike from June 15," the mail read.

Underlining that they are seeking a prompt meeting with the Director, the union said, "We also do not want to go for strike during this difficult time. But when it would become a predicament, we will be having no options but to go for strike and the sole responsibility of all consequences will be on the AIIMS administration."

President of the union Harish Kajla earlier during the day said working at a stretch for six hours, which usually extended to seven to eight hours at times, while donning PPEs was adversely affecting the physical well-being of the nursing staff, especially the women.

"Several of our staff are facing health complications like body rashes and urinary tract infections, while several others have lost weight," Kajla said.

"Women are having issues related to menstruation as they cannot change sanitary pads with PPE on, neither can they go to the washroom. Once you wear a PPE you cannot take it off just like that and thus we are forced to wear adult diapers during duty, but it's very uncomfortable," he said.

He further said that as the health of nurses is adversely affected, they are getting prone to contracting the infection fast.

Kajla said since there was no response from the administration, the protest would continue but clarified that the healthcare work is not getting hampered. "Nursing staff participate in the protest in rotation after their shifts get over."

Since February 1, as many as 329 healthcare workers including four faculty members, 17 resident doctors, 47 nurses, 86 hospital attendants, 62 sanitation staff and 77 security personnel among others have been infected by the virus.

AIIMS Medical Superintendent Dr DK Sharma said, "329 healthcare workers have so far contracted coronavirus since February 1. Several of those who had tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered and rejoined duty."

So far three persons from the AIIMS succumbed to COVID-19. An electrician who had tested positive for the disease died on Sunday. A sanitation supervisor and a mess worker at the RPC canteen died due to the disease last week.

Published 03 June 2020, 18:23 IST

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