Since 1st November, 2019, the United Nurse Association has been protesting at Jantar Mantar for minimum wage. However, the struggle started in 2011, won on paper in 2016 with the Supreme Court verdict, and yet they are denied it till today.
The United Nurse Association (UNA) has been protesting day and night at Jantar Mantar to implement the Supreme Court verdict they fought for minimum wage years ago. The UNA caters to more than 10,000 private nurses that further carter to tens of thousands of patients in private hospitals.
The struggle began in 2011 and continued with many marches and protests to meet with the Chief Minister (CM) of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, to raise this issue. After being told in every meeting by him that he can only do something after the Supreme Court passes the verdict, the entire nurse association worked in same terrible conditions fighting for minimum wage.
Viveki, General Secretary of United Nurse Association said, “We were called to the residence of the CM at Civil Lines, Delhi. We begged them to help us; he promised that he’ll go to the extent of even protesting with us once the verdict comes out. However, after the verdict, he has refused all sorts of communication with us.”
However, after a tedious battle the verdict was passed in 2016 in Supreme Court in favour of the nurses.
As per the Supreme Court judgement dated 29-01-2016 in WCP(c)527/2011, nurses who are working in private hospitals in Delhi must get their salary according to the Bed Status, the salary bracket made by the Court which should have been implemented:
- In case of less than 200 bedded hospitals, salary given to private nurses must be at par with salaries of State Government Nurses.
- In case of less than 100 bedded hospitals, salary given to private nurses should be 10% less than that of State Government Nurses.
- In case of 50-100 bedded hospitals, the salary must be 25% less than that of State Government Nurses.
- In case of 50 bedded hospitals, salary cannot be less than ?20,000/- pm.
The basic dignity that comes with every profession has often been denied to these nurses. Hence, the verdict also guarantees working conditions and benefits granted to state government nurses, to be implemented to private working nurses. Essential requirements like leaves, working hours, medical facilities, transportation, and even maternity leaves are denied.
We all know about justice delayed is justice denied, however in this case, the verdict came in 2016, and it is the end of 2019 now and that verdict hasn’t been implemented yet, their right to seek redressal has been blatantly ignored in broad day light. What’s worse is that the CM’s office and Delhi Government are still not listening to them and are not even ready for a dialogue.
The first medical personnel provided to the patients are nurses. If the country treats them like this, the future of healthcare remains uncertain.
Currently, in their generosity, they finish their shifts at these hospitals and then protest at Jantar Mantar to not jeopardise their patients. From 15th November, they have been on a hunger strike, after completing their hectic shifts. However, the situation has worsened so much that they are forced to resort to a full protest, leaving patients hanging at Jantar Mantar on 10th December.
A crisis that affects all of us hasn’t received single media coverage yet. Healthcare is the building block of our society, yet it is being treated in pure abeyance. More than that, what is being expected of these nurses is inhumane; dignity that comes with each profession is a constitutional right. While the mainstream media is more interested in covering communal politics, issue that directly affects our progression as a society doesn’t even surface.
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