Nurses halt nation-wide strike until March 25

25-02-2013 12:00 AM

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - The Jordanian nurses umbrella association decided on Monday to halt the nurses' strike until March 25th.

Nurses nation-wide working in the Ministry of Health, University of Jordan Hospital, and King Abdullah I University Hospital in Irbid, went on an open strike on Monday, February 25th, but postponed it to give the government a chance to meet their demands.

Postponing the strike came after Minister of Health Abdul Latif Wreikat and a number of lawmakers intervened to dissuade the nurses from carrying out their strike, considering the grave implications on citizens' health and hospital needs.

Wreikat had stressed on Monday that providing medical care to patients is an "unquestionable sacred duty."

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Health's media office, the Minister stressed that patients visiting hospitals and clinics must receive timely needed care that cannot be postponed or else cause further danger to their lives.

Wreikat noted however that the Ministry accepts "freedom of opinion and right to voice demands," but stressed that such measures cannot come at the expense of providing medical care to patients.

The statement praised ministry cadres for their job in providing care for patients, and called on nurses "not to forget its professional and humanitarian duty towards patients."

The Minister stressed that the Ministry of Health seeks to improve the work conditions of nurses, especially their financial conditions "which have gotten better in the past year," and is keen to granting them further gains and improving the conditions of their work places.

In a meeting held by the general assembly of the Jordan Nurses and Midwives Council (JNMC) last week, the nurses rejected proposals to postpone the strike again, stressing that the strike beginning on Monday will include protests in hospitals and clinics nationwide.

JNMC President Mohammad Hatamleh warned the government against continuing to ignore and neglect the nurses demands. He noted that the last announced strike was postponed despite the nurses' objection, who cite government's stalling in meeting their demands.

Hatamleh however stressed on nurses the need to deal with emergency cases related to saving people's lives, and insisted that nurses must be at their place of work everyday during the general strike.

"Salaries of nurses are near minimum wage in the kingdom, and the government must take responsibility to resolve the difficulties facing nurses in the field," Hatamleh had told Ammon News last week.

Nurses are demanding fair salaries and equivalent benefits as offered to government employees of other sectors. The demands include reinstating the 120 percent technical bonus on base salaries, giving the 35 percent for full-time nurses, and raising the bonuses of nurses' assistants to 70 percent.

At the University of Jordan Hospital, the nurses are demanding a 120 percent bonus on base salary, and raising administrative incentive bonuses to 25 percent, in addition to better management of the hospital's finances.

The Jordan Nurses and Midwives Council has been threatening to escalate measures against the government, including going on open strike, since last year.

Negotiations with the Ministry of Health and the government reached a stalemate, with nurses blasting the government of neglecting their demands for better work conditions.

Nurses have been deliberating going on open strike since midyear in 2012, yet pressures against the strike have been successful so far to deter nurses from work stoppage considering the severity and implications of their strike that may lead to a nation-wide shutdown of government-run hospitals.

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