Nurses Call Off Nationwide Strike As Centre Agrees To Look Into Demands

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The nurses had staged the strike to demand a revision of their pay and allowances.


New Delhi:  Government hospital nurses across the country have called off their indefinite strike for better pay and allowances after reaching a compromise with the Centre.

The strike was called off late in the night on Saturday after a marathon four-hour meeting between All India Government Nurses' Federation and Union Health Ministry officials. The nurses were promised that their demands will be put before the Union Ministry of Finance on September 12. They have also been given the assurance that those who skipped work today and on Friday will not be penalised. The two days would be considered as leave, the nurses were told.

"We have been given assurance by the central government that our outstanding issues would be resolved by September 12. Also, the Delhi Chief Secretary has assured us that the police cases against the two nurses would be withdrawn and they would be released. So, we are calling off our nationwide strike," AIGNF spokesperson Liladhar Ramchandani told the Press Trust of India.

This news would come as a relief for hospitals and patients who have been bearing the brunt of the strike.

60-year-old Rampur resident Tara Begum was left on a piece of cloth outside the emergency ward at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi for more than an hour after doctors allegedly refused to admit her, citing a lack of manpower. Ms Begum's son Mr Aazim told NDTV, "Doctors refused to admit her saying the nurses are on strike, so there is no one to monitor her."

The Delhi government on Friday had to invoke the stringent Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) to classify the strike as illegal. 20,000 nurses in Delhi were detained by police. But that wasn't enough to deter the nurses from staying away from work and they continued with their strike till Sunday. Two male nurses of Dr Ambedkar Hospital in outer Delhi were also arrested under the Act today.

The agitation made the situation worse in Delhi where hospitals have been grappling to deal with the rising cases of mosquito-borne diseases. At least 432 people have been diagnosed with chikungunya in Delhi this season. Eight of the 487 people diagnosed have died.

Many other states were also gravely affected by the strike. Health Secretary CK Mishra said that Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, parts of Punjab were among the most affected.


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