Members of nursing staff at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) take part in a protest during their indefinite strike over the long-standing demands in New Delhi on December 15, 2020
Members of nursing staff at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) take part in a protest during their indefinite strike over the long-standing demands in New Delhi on December 15, 2020
Money Sharma / AFP

New Delhi: The Delhi Nurses Federation (DNF), the apex welfare association of nurses working across the government hospitals in the national capital, has shown its support to the indefinite strike by the nurses of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), on Tuesday.

The association has also written a letter to the union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan requesting him to resolve the long-pending demands of the nursing cadre employed in the Centre-run medical institute.

The AIIMS Nurses Union thanked the DNF for extending support to the indefinite strike.

The NIMHANS Nurses Welfare Association (NNWA) and the Delhi State Hospital's Nurses Union have also extended their support to the AIIMS nurses on strike.

'Snatching' the dignity of our profession: Nurses

Liladhar Ramchandani, general secretary of DNF, stated that the issues raised by the nurses of AIIMS are not limited to them, but is a ground reality across the country.

"The contractualisation of our jobs is snatching the dignity of our profession. The nurses are struggling to fulfil their various demands pending since the last 10 years, but still the ministry of health is not showing any interest in resolving genuine issues of the nurses. The issues raised by AIIMS nurses union are not limited to them only, but belong to all the nurses of India," he said.

Ramchandani informed that the nurses working across Delhi-government run hospitals have shown support to the agitation by AIIMS' nurses. "DNF stands in full support of the AIIMS Nurses Union and all the nurses working under the Delhi government have extended their solidarity to the movement started by AIIMS nurses," he said.

Demands related to pay, reservation, and cadre restructuring

Around 5,000 nurses of AIIMS are on the indefinite strike since Monday afternoon against the hospital's decisions to engage nursing officers on contractual payroll and other demands.

Their demands include correction of an anomaly in the fixation of the initial pay as per the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC), redressal of issues such as abolishment of gender-based reservation in the recruiting process of nursing officers and contractual appointments, enhancement of hospital accommodation and cadre restructuring.

The strike was scheduled to be observed from Wednesday, however, as per the nurses union. However, the decision by the hospital to start contractual hiring forced them to pre-empt their strike.

Patients' kin stand clueless

In the face of the indefinite strike by nursing staff, patients' families outside the emergency ward stand clueless about what is to be done.

Abhishek, a patient's family member outside the emergency ward, told ANI, "We have not been allowed to meet our patient inside. We can see the nurses' strike is going on. We just want to know who is looking after the patients if nurses are protesting here? Throughout the day we receive only one call about our patient's health update. We are completely clueless."

Another patient's family member, Priya, who came from Noida said, "The main problem we are facing is that nobody is giving us any update regarding my father's health. I hope the administration has arrangements inside."

Nurses blame hospital administration for current situation

The nurses, on their part, are blaming the hospital administration for the present situation of the patients and their families.

Harish Kumar Kajla, President, AIIMS Nurses Union told ANI, "Who is responsible for the present situation of the patients? We are not the administration, our job is to serve people. Our organisation had put forth our demands in an organised manner but nobody listened to us. We stood helpless. We have been compelled for today's situation. Hope the administration listen to us now."

Meanwhile, AIIMS said on Tuesday that the nurses neither want to work nor would allow anyone else to work as nursing staff in the hospital.

Hospital defends decision in the face of Health Ministry's edict

The hospital defended its decision of hiring nurses on contract basis as a part of their contingency plan to deal with the strike call by the nurses' union.

On the other hand, the Union Health Ministry earlier in a written statement stated that AIIMS Delhi should ensure that directions of Delhi High Court are strictly complied with, without fail and there should be no cessation of nursing functions in AIIMS nor such an action aided/abetted. Non-compliance will be treated as an offence and action will be taken against defaulting authorities or employees.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the ongoing Nurses Union strike, AIIMS-Delhi has decided to outsource the nursing services on a contractual basis.

The decision was taken in a meeting attended by the Chairman, Director, Deputy Director, senior faculty of the AIIMS administration. Delhi Nurses Federation extends support to the ongoing indefinite strike by AIIMS Nurses Union.

(With inputs from agencies)

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