The nurses’ strike at the Mother Hospital in Thrissur took a dramatic turn on Wednesday as the police forcibly arrested hundreds of agitating nurses when they tried to block the entrances to the hospital.
Tension prevailed in front of the hospital in the morning when the striking nurses stopped the patients, doctors and hospital workers from entering the hospital by blocking both the entrances to the hospital.
When the police tried to remove the agitators, the nurses clashed with the police and blocked their vehicles. Following this, the police forcibly arrested them and took them to the Thrissur Town West police station. The remaining nurses at the site then blocked the Kanjani bus route, disrupting the traffic along the route for hours.
Later they picketed the police station, demanding unconditional release of the arrested nurses. One nurse was injured in the minor clash between the police and the protesters.
Around a dozen negotiations were held between the striking nurses and the hospital management, led by the District Collector, district labour commissioner and the High Court-appointed mediation committee.
However, they failed as the management refused to take back the suspended nurses. The hospital management is still sticking to its earlier stand that the nurses who were suspended could only be reinstated if they were found innocent after a preliminary inquiry. They also admitted that they were ready to hike the salary of nurses in accordance with the government rules.
According to the United Nurses Association office-bearers, eight nurses were dismissed from the hospital and five nurses were suspended for starting the strike.
Hence, they would continue the two-and-a-half-month old strike further and intensify it to state-level until the demands were met, they said.
The striking nurses had met Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan in Thrissur on Friday seeking his intervention in the strike. Environmentalist and social activist Medha Patkar also paid a visit to the hospital on Tuesday seeking ways to solve the strike.
Meanwhile, the patient care services was hit for the ninth day as the nurses under the banner of United Nurses Association abstained from duties as part of the district-wide strike.