January 10th, 2012
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Management strangles nurses agitation, media remains silent witness

Camera within a Cassock/ Niranjalli Varma

Even as the battle between the nurses deprived of dignity, security and fair wages and the power wielding management at the Angamaly Little Flower hospital rages on; hidden camera, abuse, threats, blackmail and negative propaganda are the weapons raised by the latter to strangle and stifle the agitation.  In this fight between the oppressor and the oppressed the main stream media has made its stand clear. Bowing down under cooperate pressure the media has preferred to remain blind, deaf and dumb. Doolnews investigates further into the Angamaly nurses agitation.

The nurses protest against the Little flower hospital management at Angamaly that began on January 2,2012 has entered its ninth day and both sides continue to remain adamant, obdurate and stubborn on their views. Even as the logjam continues the administration has refused to yield to the strong agitation staged by the nurses. The demands of the nurses are simple. Their cry for job security, dignity, and provision of minimum wages continues to fall on deaf ears.

Reinstating the dismissed nurses, raising the minimum wage, removal of  bonded labour, introduction of working in shifts and ensuring job security are some of the demands raised by the agitating nurses.

The management on the other hand relentlessly continues to leave no stone unturned to crush the protest. “The management has stooped to an all time low. In an alleged bid to blackmail the protesting lady nurses, a private photographer was sent to the lady’s hostel, to secretively click snaps of the nurses who had gone to change their clothes and perform ablutions. The camera man was gheraoed. Some of the protestors and natives managed to get hold of the photographer and destroy the film. A complaint has been filed against the accused for abuse and outraging the modesty and dignity of women before the police and the women’s commission,” said Mr Jasmine Shah, President United Nurses Union and Mr Binto, Little Flower Hospital Union Secretary.

Mr Binto told Doolnews, “The management made phone calls to the nursing students and staff’s homes and spoke ill of them. They even threatened their parents. All modes of subtle and obtuse modes of threats are being used to weaken the protest.”

“Notices are being published and circulated among the staff and the natives against the agitators. In every manner possible they have been trying to tarnish our image. Even emotional and mental torture is being implemented to break our spirit and weaken the movement. When ANM students attempted to join the protest they were threatened and so were we. The management issued notices on Saturday stating that the hostels shall be shut down. Thus accommodation and food shall be denied to the nurses. ,” he added.

The nurses have been receiving a paltry sum of Rupees 3500 of which 1100 is deducted as rent and mess charges. The nurses have asked the management to pay them the minimum wages set as per the 2009 government rules which amounts to 8500. However the management claims that they have been paying the nurses 10000 per month.

“ The management has been manipulating the salary certificates of the nurses. The salary is paid to them in an envelope after signing a register in which the details of payment is filled up according to the whims and fancies of the management”, said Jasmine Shah.

Though the protest began on January 2, 2012 till date there has been only two meetings between the management and the striking nurses. Both the meetings held at the District Labor Office (DLO) office failed as the two parties refused to see eye to eye. The agitators have demanded that the dismissed nurses be reinstated. The management however claims that they were willing to reinstate the nurses only after conducting an entrance exam. The protesting nurses believe that nurses that have more than one and half years of working experience need not go through an entrance exam. Thus the discussions have reached a dead end. The next meeting is scheduled to be held at Thiruvananthapuram today.

The protestors have expressed displeasure on the fact that the media has not been sensitive and enthusiastic in covering the issue. The main stream media continues to shy away from the issue. Though nursing is a large workforce in Kerala their voices remain unheard. “Our opponents are very strong and powerful. Most hospitals are owned and run by large cooperate organizations such as Reliance, or by community groups. The management of most hospitals has immense influence and manipulates the political heads as well as the media. Most MP’s and MLA’s have shares in these hospitals. Hospital’s owned by community groups also have great control over the politicians because of vote bank politics. They have strong bargaining power. The media is terrified. We have reasons to believe that the gatekeepers of the media refuse to give sufficient coverage to our cause because the media and the hospital management have a strong profit reeking cooperate relationship.”

Speaking about his experience while agitating at Muthoot hospital Mr Jasmine Shah said,”While agitating at Muthoot hospital several reporters covered the agitation but the news never reached the public. It was not a difficult task to kill the news. The Muthoot management picked up the phone called the concerned media and said ‘What do you want advertisement or news.’ The decision was made.” Muthoot is a major source of advertising revenue for most media firms. Thus yielding under cooperate pressure the main stream media betrayed the protestors.



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