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Posted at: Mar 18, 2017, 12:54 AM; last updated: Mar 18, 2017, 12:54 AM (IST)

AIIMS nurses withdraw indefinite strike call

Their daylong 'mass leave' forced the institute to defer 90 surgeries

Ananya Panda

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17

AIIMS nurses whose daylong “mass leave” on Friday forced the institute to defer at least 90 elective surgeries today decided to withdraw the call for indefinite strike on March 27 over their demands for enhanced pay scales and allowances after the administration agreed to recommend “sixth annual increment in the pay matrix” as specified by the Seventh Central Pay Commission at all six levels of nursing employees.

In a strong disapproval of the strike, Acting Director of the premier institute Dr Balram Airon said the so-called mass casual leave is “completely unjustified” and threat of indefinite strike amounts to “blackmailing and arm-twisting” the administration that too at the cost of patient services.

“The nurses union’s step is absolutely against the principles of the noble profession. We can’t put patients under stress. This amounts to blackmailing at the cost of patients. We could not carry out operations other than emergency procedures and postponed around 90 operations (elective),” Dr Airon said even as he maintained that the administration has chosen not to act sternly as it doesn’t want its employees to suffer.

But the administration has warned that any act of indefinite strike on the issue called by the nurses' union will be “illegal” while maintaining that matter of hike in allowances (which is valid as per the administration) is currently at the disposal of the Union Ministry of Finance.

According to the administration, the one day nurses' strike put a lot of strain on patient services even as all OPDs it said ran in “full swing” while emergency trauma remained non-functional from where patients were referred to other trauma centres in the national Capital.

“But we have not discharged any patient from the wards where services are being managed with the help of ANS, DNS, who defied the unjustified call, residents and faculty,” said Dr Airon thanking all of them.

“We had a meeting with the nursing union today asking it not to go on indefinite strike and forwarded their demands once again for the consideration of the Central government. We are waiting for the recommendations from the Centre,” said Dr Airon speaking to reporters at AIIMS.

“Despite a series of meetings between the administration and the nurses' union, they (nurses) went on a mass casual leave today. We say it is mass absenteeism. Yesterday we had an hour-and-a-half long meeting on the issue but they later just sent us a letter about the strike. The institute has always been receptive to demands of the union and has been pursuing the matter with the Union Health Ministry. We can only pursue and now the health ministry has to take it up with the Finance Ministry,” said the AIIMS Officiating Director.

“We have withdrawn our call of indefinite strike. After negotiations, the administration has agreed to recommend the sixth annual increment in the pay matrix of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. We have been assured of no adverse action against anyone on mass leave,” said Harish Kumar Kajla, president, AIIMS Nurses' Union.

Importantly, the premier institute’s administration has already agreed to other demands of the union, such as nomenclature from Staff Nurse to Nursing Officer and study leave, while the pay anomaly pertaining to Deputy Nursing Superintendent also stands resolved.

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