Nurses asked to quit for speaking in Malayalam to approach NHRC

May 26th, 2009 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Two nurses, who were asked to resign for speaking to each other in Malayalam at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital here, will now take up the matter with the National Human Right’s Commission (NHRC). Hospital authorities, however, said the two are “still with the hospital”.
The nurses, Jenny Joseph and Laila Menon (names changed), were posted in the ICU of the Cardio Thoracic Vascular Surgery (CTVS) ward. Reporting for afternoon duty at 1.45 p.m. Monday, the two greeted each other at the lift lobby in Malayalam, not realising that the nursing superintendent Usha Bannerjee was behind them.

Joseph said: “We have been apologising to her since but we were not allowed to enter the ward after that.”

The two are still trying to “sort out the matter peacefully”, but Bannerjee “refuses to speak,” she added.

Apollo Hospital, meanwhile, claims that speaking in any ‘native languages’ within the premises is a strict no-no - something that the nurses are well aware of.

“Still the hospital has not asked them to leave - they are still with the hospital. It was simply a case of the boss reprimanding her juniors for not following rules and speaking in Malayalam inside the building,” Parul Chabra, the hospital’s public relations official, told IANS.

Menon, who put in her papers “under pressure”, maintains that she had not spoken in the presence of any patient, and that since her shift had not begun and she was in the lift lobby, “it did not come in the way of delivering healthcare to any patient”.

Speaking on behalf of the two “inconsolable” nurses who were employed by the hospital six months back, Usha Krishna Kumar, president of the Malayali Nurses Welfare Association, told IANS: “It is outrageous that for expressing their fundamental right to speak in Malayalam they are being penalised. We are filing a complaint with the NHRC and the hospital’s stand is bogus. They (nurses) were indeed asked to resign and told to ‘go sell dry fish’ by Usha Bannerjee.”

“We will also be approaching senior Kerala MPs and the labour ministry to address this matter as nurses - 90 percent of whom are Malayalis - are just harassed on the pretext of hospital rules in private hospitals,” added Usha, who is the wife of former union minister S. Krishna Kumar.

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