Court restrains nurses at AIIMS from continuing their indefinite strike
By Lata Baisoya
New Delhi: In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Nurses’ strike was the last that a hapless patient could have asked for. After around 5,000 nurses of the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) went on an indefinite strike to press for their 23 demands including those related to the Sixth Central Pay Commission, the Delhi High Court stepped in today retraining them from continuing with the strike. The next hearing would be on January 18.
Terming the strike as “illegal” and that it violated the Industrial Dispute Act, the AIIMS administration had today approached the Delhi High Court. It further claimed that the strike was also in violation of an earlier court order that prohibits any such strikes by AIIMS employees.
The High Court noted that AIIMS was considering the nurses’ demands and restrained the nurses from continuing with the strike till further orders. The court also issued notice to the striking nurses, asking them to respond to the hospital’s appeal.
Earlier today, the AIIMS Director, Professor Randeep Guleria, had asked the nurses to rethink their strike in view of the Covid situation, especially as AIIMS is one of the key dedicated facilities for treatment of the disease. In his video message Guleria said, “I am very proud of the AIIMS family for the tremendous work done during the COVID-19… the nation is proud. Unfortunately, at this time of pandemic, the nurses’ union has gone on strike, It, however, seems inappropriate that when a country is fighting a pandemic…the nurse union has decided to go on a strike…I appeal to all of you to come back to work and really help get us through…This year we celebrate 200 years of Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, who worked tirelessly. Today we look at the nurses to work tirelessly for those who suffered during the pandemic.”
Patients were left hapless as nurses abandoned them today. In a statement earlier today, the AIIMS Nurses’ Union, blamed the AIIMS management for the situation. “If they are really concerned for the patients they could have called us for discussion or negotiation. It has been a month since we sent the strike notice, but we have not been called for any constructive discussion,” the statement read.
In the meantime, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare too made an appeal to all the nurses today and said, “The Ministry is open to placing the fresh demand before appropriate authorities for sympathetic consideration and therefore the AllMS Nurses Union may be requested to reconsider and withdraw call for any strike, especially during these trying times, due to the national priority of effectively tackling Covid-19 pandemic.”