The Government’s decision to allow nurses to hire nurses on a contract basis through a Mumbai private agency (GR) has caused a statewide uproar. Nurses and nursing students across Maharashtra have launched token protests since Monday and threatened to launch an indefinite strike from Saturday unless the government cancels the new order.
There are currently around 4,500 nursing posts vacant under Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER). In its GR issued on April 13, it said 1,769 vacancies could be filled by outsourcing to an external agency. Nurses and their associations are up in arms against the government to privatize the recruitment process.
“When vacancies are filled on a regular basis, candidates are recruited in a highly competitive manner. On the other hand, when a private agency is recruiting, they get candidates who are willing to work for a lower salary and the ability is always respectable,” said Maharashtra State Nurses Association Executive President Arun Kadam.
He added, “The state’s decision to outsource the appointment will result in the exploitation of nurses. It is a known fact that private agencies make huge money but employees who are hired on contract basis get less. Such a government order would have far-reaching effects on future nurses, ”he said.
From Monday, nurses boycotted one hour of work from 7.30am to 8.30am. If the government does not respond to their demands, the entire day and Thursday will be boycotted. “We will launch a statewide indefinite strike from Saturday,” Union President Manisha Shinde said.
In addition to abolishing the GR, nurses are demanding a ‘request-based transfer’ instead of a regular, mandatory transfer. “Transfers affect the nurses deeply because they have many domestic responsibilities, such as taking care of children, parents, mothers, etc. Therefore, nurses should be transferred only if requested,” Kadam said.
Nursing associations held several meetings with DMER officials last week. “We have met many of their representatives and requested them to withdraw the strike,” said Dr Ajay Chandanwale, joint director of DMER. “Hiring outsourcing is a temporary solution to ensure that patient services are not affected. The regular process for permanent recruitment will begin soon, ” he said.
However, Chandanwale did not comment on the GR withdrawal.
The token strike did not affect the work of the hospitals, however, it could affect the services of the patients if the nurses launched the strike last night.