Nurses in India plan more strike action over pay

Threat follows last month's walkout by more than 400 nurses

A nationwide indefinite strike by nurses in India may begin next week, following a day of industrial action last month by 406 nurses demanding higher pay for those starting in the profession.

The nurses walked out at hospitals run by the state-owned Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) in the south-west state of Karnataka. Most of their duties had to be covered by final-year nursing students.

The ESIC Nursing Officers Association said the government had failed to answer the pay requirements of the profession and that nurses were caring for 50 to 60 patients a shift. Association vice-president Ajin Ramadas said staff were also seeking an allowance for working at night.

The All-India Government Nurses Federation, which has called for industrial action next week, said the government has refused to increase entry grade pay for staff nurses from 4,600 rupees a month (£48) to 5,400 rupees (£57). The federation is planning a nationwide indefinite strike starting on March 15 if their pay demands are not met.

The government has sent circulars to all major hospitals stating that participation of nurses in the ongoing strike would be considered a breach of the law. It added that ESIC nurses are already paid more than nurses working in the private sector.

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