Ruling CPI-M led LDF in Kerala today asked its government to take steps to end the ongoing agitation by sections of nurses in private hospitals even as it described as 'reasonable' their wage hike demand. "Neither the CPI-M nor the LDF is against the stir of nurses who are fighting for a just cause.
Their demand is reasonable," LDF Convener Vaikom Viswam said. However, the issues should be settled through talks, he told reporters after a meeting of the front's leaders here. Viswam pointed to the meeting of representatives of nurses' associations and hospital managements convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for July 20 and said 'a solution is expected' during the talks. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala also asked the Chief Minister to take the initiative to end the strike by nurses. Nurses under the banner of United Nurses Association and Indian Nurses Association, who held relay dharna in front of the secretariat for than a month, had announced an indefinite strike from today, but put it on hold till July 19 following the government's intervention. Besides, the Kerala High Court has restrained nurses from holding the indefinite stir on a petition by private hospitals which contended their services fall under the ambit of essential services. An estimated 80,000 nurses were expected to join the strike. Meanwhile, a march taken out by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists to the secretariat in support of the nurses' turned violent today. Police used water cannons to chase away the agitators. Nurses belonging to Indian Nurses Association (INA) are continuing with their agitation, crippling functioning of various private hospitals in the Malabar region. A group of nurses affiliated to INA is still protesting in front of the secretariat.