Thousands of nurses across India have started an indefinite strike for better pay and conditions. Historically unorganised, Indian nurses have formed a new union, creating over 400 branches in two months. They have vowed to remain on strilke until their wages are increased by around 80%. Courts have deemed the strike to be illegal and have instructed police to assist scabs to get into work.
Nurses are the latest group of workers in India to fight back and demand better terms and conditions, and a share of the economic growth. The nurses are demanding a salary of 15,000 Rupee’s. They currently earn 9,000. In some states hospitals are not even paying the legal minimum wage to qualified nurses.
Nurses in many hospitals across India have gone on an ‘indefinite’ strike, with others set to follow.
On Wednesday, the high court ordered police to intervene and ensure that scabs can get into work safely. The court has declared that the strike that has been in place since Monday is illegal. The court has issued notice to the nurses union to end the strike. Several areas are reporting striking workers being sacked or suspended.
Nursing leaders have said that the strike is ‘indefinite’ and will only end when management agree to their demands.
Conditions endured by the nurses are so poor that a spokesman from the women’s wing of the ruling congress party stated that, “the nurses are being tortured by the hospital management”.
The leading India trade union, the INTUC, who doesn’t ordinarily represent nurses, has stated that, “We will not allow anybody to harm he nurses, who are spearheading a struggle for just causes. If necessary, the INTUC will directly take up leadership of the agitation”.
Historically, Indian nurses were disorganised. In the last two months, the majority of India’s nurses have joined the newly formed, United Nurses Association, which in eight weeks has grown to 432 branches. The newly formed Union are vowing to bring significant changes to nurses pay and condition across India.
Solidarity with the Indian nurses!