AIIMS Nurses Call Off Strike After Delhi High Court Order

At the High Court hearing, the hospital said the nurses' strike was illegal and violated an earlier order by the court prohibiting such action by AIIMS employees

The AIIMS nursing union went on strike Monday over pay commission and hiring disputes

New Delhi:

Nurses at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Education (AIIMS) called off their strike Tuesday night, after a meeting with hospital administration and hours after the Delhi High Court said they could not continue their "indefinite strike".

Hospital Director Dr Randeep Guleria, who on Monday called the nurses "part of the AIIMS family" and appealed to them to rethink their strike, said the administration would immediately hold "several rounds of dialogues" to resolve outstanding issues.

"From the AIIMS administration side, within this week we will hold several rounds of dialogues to try and resolve your demands. The Health Ministry will also hold talks and try to resolve this as soon as possible," Dr Guleria said.

He also said that demands concerning other ministries - a reference to the nurses' concern over the Sixth Pay Commission - would be addressed as soon as possible as well.

"I thank the entire nursing fraternity, who are all part of the AIIMS family, for listening to our appeal... to the court.. and also considering the plight of patients, especially during the pandemic, and calling off the strike and coming back to work," he said.

Nurses at the one of the country's top medical facilities laid down tools Monday and put forward 23 demands that included asking for clarity on salary structure (with reference to the Sixth Pay Commission) and a freeze on contract hiring.

Dr Guleria called the timing of the strike "unfortunate" and said the nurses had misinterpreted the Sixth Pay Commission rules. However, a spokesperson for the nurses told NDTV these demands had been made a long time ago and they had been promised action, but nothing seemed to have changed.

At the High Court hearing earlier today, AIIMS said the strike violated the Industrial Disputes Act, as well as an earlier order by the court prohibiting such action by employees.

A single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla restrained the nurses from continuing with their strike and asked them to respond to the hospital's appeals, since their demands were being considered.

The strike, coming at a time when the national capital and the country is fighting off the Covid pandemic, prompted the centre to step in, with the Union Health Secretary citing a Delhi High Court order to appeal for no disruption of nursing work.

Non-compliance with the court's order, he said, will be treated as an offence under the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code, and "action will be taken against defaulters".