The nurses union of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said that the hospital administration betrayed them despite giving assurances to them regarding the abolishment of contractual appointments of nursing officers.
They cited this "stab in the back" as the prime reason which prompted them to go on indefinite strike since Monday.
Speaking to IANS, Harish Kumar, president of nurses union of AIIMS said that the hospital has stabbed us in the back with their decision to hire nursing officers on contract-term basis.
"The hospital is playing with patients' safety and rights of the nurses with contractual hiring. We are totally against it and would not back down till the decision is rolled back," he said.
The union clarified that their indefinite strike would continue till their demands were met.
The strike has come at a time when the critical patients suffering from Covid-19 and other diseases are flocking to the hospital amid a cold wave descending on the city.
The union said that the onus of loss to the patient's care rests on the hospital administration and the government.
"Since last year, we have been constantly approaching the hospital with our demands after the government assured us that they will be accepted shortly. We were also assured by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan last year that our major demands, which include correction of an anomaly in the fixation of the initial pay as per the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC), and abolishment of contractual appointments of nursing officers, would be soon accepted. However, nothing moved in the last one year," Kumar said.
"If we had not gone on strike, the hospital would have jeopardized our future by throwing us at the mercy of contracting agencies," he asserted.
The nurses claimed that no dialogue has happened between the officials from the hospital and the nurses since the strike started. "They are just acting stubborn and assuming that our agitation would die down," said one of the protesting nurses, Indumati Singh, while speaking to IANS.
Around 5,000 nurses of the AIIMS are on the indefinite strike. Their demands also include redressal of issues such as abolishment of gender-based reservation in the recruiting process of nursing officers and contractual appointments, enhancement of hospital accommodation and cadre restructuring.
The emergency services at the premier hospital have taken a hit and critical care patients have been abandoned in view of ongoing strike.
To control the situation, the administration had asked all the junior, resident and senior doctors to double up for the nurses who are currently on agitation.
The officials from AIIMS informed IANS that the hospital may have to curtail its emergency services in view of the absence of nursing staff in the facility.