Even as the State government invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on nursing services for three months, around 2,500 nurses in government hospitals of Madhya Pradesh struck work on Monday, demanding a hike in salary and improvement in working conditions.
Outside the main government hospital in Bhopal, members of the nurses' association shouted slogans against the government and threatened a larger agitation if their demands were not met.
"The government has not shown any sympathy towards us. Their decision is not acceptable to us. We are requesting them to sort this issue or else after seven days, all the nurses from every corner of the state would be on the roads," said Manju, Bhopal District President of the Nurses' Association.
Patients were taken by surprise and bore the burnt of the strike. Many people had to attend to their patients themselves, as the nurses were absent from duty.
The government also warned of dire action if the protesting nurses did not return to work.
"We have taken strict steps to deal with the strike. We have asked the Health Department to arrange for additional staff so that the medical services are not affected. We are also asking the final year nursing students for help. The government has put ESMA on this and we will deal with them sternly if they don't resume work," said Narendra Hardia, Health Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
The State government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on nursing services for three months.