Kerala nurses on strike, bus owners to follow suit

Thiruvananthapuram: Nurses across Kerala who are affiliated to the United Nurses Association went on a 24-hour strike from Thursday morning, in solidarity with some of their colleagues at a hospital in Alappuzha district who were sacked from service.

Just as the nurses end their strike on Friday morning, private bus owners in the state will commence their strike, demanding a higher minimum fare for bus travel.

On Wednesday, the state government had hiked the minimum bus fare by one rupee, to Rs8 (46 fils), but private bus owners decided to go on strike, demanding that the minimum fare be hiked to Rs10.

They have other demands, too, including hiking the minimum fare for students as well as ending such concessional travel, withdrawal of increased road tax for vehicles, and formation of a regulatory body.

The private bus sector in Kerala has been shrinking over the years, apparently because of the rise in the number of private four and two-wheelers, and it is estimated that there are only about 13,000 private buses in the 14 districts of Kerala.

The nurses on strike are demanding a resolution of the labour dispute in a private hospital at Cherthala near Alappuzha, where some nurses have been removed from service. Making the same demand, the state general secretary of the United Nurses Association, Sujanapal Achuthan is on an indefinite hunger strike.

Last week, the nurses striking at the Cherthala KVM Hospital had taken their protest to the streets, blocking the national highway, which led to a police baton-charge in which several protesters were injured. The hospital management has declined to re-employ the nurses who have been sacked.


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