Telangana: Fired overnight, contract nurses stare at uncertainty

Hyderabad: Geeta, a nurse who worked at the state-run Niloufer hospital, came all the way from her native in Nizamabad for the job. She left her family and children behind, choosing the government job, as it usually offers a sense of security. But her world has turned upside down, given that she has lost her job along with 1639 others.

“I could have taken up a private job but since a government job offers a sense of security, I chose this. I couldn’t even get vaccinated because taking leave to battle vaccination exhaustion wasn’t an option,” Geeta told Like her, over 1600 nurses who were hired by the Telangana government on contract during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic lost their jobs are their positions were rescinded.

Many like Geeta have been on protest from last week due to their future now being uncertain. The plight of the 1,640 nurses who were recently terminated by the Telangana government is far worse than what we know. Many of them who battled COVID-19 and were exhausted, went back to duty post their first dose of vaccination. They stayed in poorly furnished hostels and lived on a paltry diet far away from their homes.

These nuances went amiss as the demand of the nurses focused on reinstating their jobs and honoring the work they have put in so far. “If we had to be terminated within the period of one year, then oyr contract lapsed by the end of March but we were asked to continue till the beginning of July this year and then were unceremoniously removed,” Geeta pointed out.

A nurse from Gandhi hospital added that there were verbal promises by officials that their contract would be extended until March, 2022. “If they wanted to terminate us, they should have done so by the end of March this year. But they kept us on. What are we supposed to do now?” Geeta asked.

Ajay, who was earlier employed at Gandhi Hospital as a nurse noted that the people in question have put forward their situation to the Joint Labor Commissioner and the Directorate of Medical Education but to no avail. “They keep saying that they need time to look into the matter but we are currently jobless and need employment immediately.” he said.

However, when spoke to Mr. Ramesh Reddy, the Director of Medical Education, he said, “The terminated staff was hired on a contractual basis and the only reason the hiring of regular time took place was owing to some court cases which delayed the hiring.

“There wasn’t any promise of job surety for more than a year and hence this termination isn’t unreasonable. We are following the government order to its proper intent” he added.

The demonstration by the nurses held at Gandhi Bhavan two days resulted in nurses being pushed and berated by the cops. Some of the nurses spoke to said that the earlier demonstration resulted in them being detained preventively at various police stations across the city.

Geeta noted that while the contract nurses were on duty, a lot of them turned up for duty the next day despite being vaccinated the previous day even though their physical state wasn’t very good. Another male nurse, Nagesh, from the Koti Maternity Hospital, informed that the Telangana government, including the chief minister, time and again appreciated their diligent work. But the verbal promises didn’t amount to much.

The last support the medical staff got from an official was Telangana Congress President Revanth Reddy who wrote to chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) stating that despite praising their work, the KCR government was treating frontline warriors poorly and this wasn’t acceptable. The situation remains unresolved as nurses continue to voice their concerns.