Third party stretched nurses’ stir to 115 days

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The strike at Mar Baselios Medical Mission Hospital, Kothamangalam, dragged on for 115 days despite the effort of the government to settle it, primarily due to two reasons: namely, differences between the management and the agitators on the number of staff nurses required for the hospital; and the intervention of some organisations and individuals who had nothing to do with hospitals or their staff.

Basically, the issue was this: While the agitators, under the banner of Indian Nurses Association (INA), were of the view that 305 staff nurses should be on the rolls considering that the hospital was having 382 beds, the management was not ready to appoint more than 80.

Meanwhile, the refusal of the agitators to attend the talks convened by the regional labour commissioner on four previous occasions was also intriguing.

It remains a mystery why three nurses of the 100-odd agitators suddenly decided to take the extreme step of going to the seventh floor and started threatening suicide. INA joint secretary P.B. Mukesh said he himself came to know about the incident from the media.

There were also reports that a number of organisations including Islamic outfit SDPI, pro-naxalite “Porattam” and a group led by environmentalist C.R. Neelakantan got themselves involved in the agitation.

Adding to this was the alleged intervention of Crime editor T.P. Nandakumar, government chief whip P.C. George and even the BJP.

The management, represented by hospital secretary Shibu Kuriakose and INA had signed an agreement as early as March 5 regarding the working conditions but the strike still happened as both sides interpreted the provisions of the agreement differently.

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