The Kerala government on Monday set Rs 20,000 as the monthly basic minimum wage of nurses working at private hospitals. The state employment secretary and law secretary signed the order on Monday evening, a day before the United Nurses’ Association was set to hold a statewide strike.
The Kerala president of the union, Jasmine Shah, told Scroll.in they will decide on whether to hold the strike after receiving the government order.
Members of the United Nurses’ Association have been staging protests since mid-2017, demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Kerala had last revised nurses’ salary in 2013.
The draft notification had suggested a gross salary ranging from Rs 20,560 to Rs 32,960, in four hospital categories. However, the final notification published by the government late on Monday said the gross salary would range from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 in six hospital categories. The wage revision will be effective from October 1, 2017.
According to the revised structure, hospitals with upto 100 beds must pay nurses Rs 20,000 a month for 208 hours of work in three eight-hour shifts, hospitals with 101 to 300 beds must pay nurses at least Rs 22,000 a month and those with 301 to 500 beds must pay them Rs 24,000 a month.
Hospitals that have from 501 to 700 beds must reimburse their nurses at least Rs 26,000 a month, while those with 701 to 800 beds must pay at least Rs 28,000 every month. Hospitals that have over 800 beds must pay nurses at least Rs 30,000 a month.
The decision, however, has not satisfied nurses. United Nurses’ Association leader Sibi Mukesh said a majority of private hospitals in the state have beds between 100 and 300. “By the earlier notification, a staff nurse would have got a gross salary of Rs 32,400. As per the final notification, he/she will get only a salary of Rs 22,000,” he was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
After the state government in March issued a draft proposal on the minimum salary of nurses in private hospitals, the managements of more than 400 hospitals had moved the Kerala High Court, highlighting what they claimed were drawbacks in the proposal, The New Indian Express reported. The court on March 16 passed an interim order restraining the Kerala government from issuing a final notification.