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Kerala’s striking nurses face severe action
By Ashraf Padanna July 17, 2017
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TRIVANDRUM: In an unprecedented move, Kerala’s leftist government has started dealing with the striking nurses in the northern district of Kannur with a heavy hand.

District collector Mir Mohammed Ali issued an order giving powers to the police under the Section of 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code usually clamped in extreme mob violence situations using his powers as the district magistrate.

He ordered eight nursing colleges in the district, two run by the southern state’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), to suspend classes and deploy students at ten hospitals where nurses are on strike over low pay for more than a fortnight.

The students thus employed at these private hospitals will get an allowance of Rs150 ($2.33) for a day’s job. Those who refuse would face action, including termination.

“The absence of nurses from their posts will severely affect the health care service delivery in the district,” the order issued on Sunday says.

“It has been reported that major hospitals are operating at less than 50 per cent of their capacity and are forced to direct their patients to the government hospitals.”

The Indian Nurses Association is on strike here while the United Nurses Association, the largest body of nurses, have deferred their indefinite strike planned from Monday following HC-initiated mediation talks scheduled for Wednesday.

“The government hospitals are currently functioning at a level considerably higher than their sanctioned level,” the order says.

“The health care infrastructure in the district are already stretched under the burden of waterborne diseases after the onset of monsoon and the crippling of services is putting the lives of patients at grave risk.”

The district administration also deployed police forces at major private hospitals to deal with the strike. They will provide security to vehicles carrying nursing students to hospitals.

He also asked principals to guide to students to take up the job and file a report on their deployment every day.

Sources said the government was going tough on the strikers as rival Congress party supports them. The INA strike will go statewide as planned on Monday.
 

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