In an outrageous move, the administration of government district hospital in Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh dismissed four staff nurses, namely Priyanka John, Priyanka Anand, Lakshmi Singh and Seema Diwedi on the ground of being pregnant.
As reported by Hindustan, a Hindi daily, The Chief Medical Superintendent (CMS) of the hospital Dr. Ghanshyam Singh, informed that the dismissal was based on orders from higher level government officials. He added that allowing these four staff nurses to continue with their medical duties poses a potential health risk to the nurses as well as their fetuses. He also instructed the hospital administration to make new recruitments to fill the vacant positions created by these dismissals.
These four frontline health workers who are now and then hailed as ‘Corona warriors’ by the government have already worked in the COVID-19 facility wing of the hospital, providing medical care and nursing to corona patients for a year before being unfairly removed from their positions.
Dr. Singh, the CMS said that neither will they reinstate these staff nurses nor will they give them paid maternity leave.
The struggle for maternity leave is a long struggle and the one that women have fought for. The privatisation and contractual nature of work has taken away many hard earned rights like the right to maternity leave. A woman cannot be fired because she is pregnant and maternity leave is a woman’s right.
During pandemic when people are struggling for their lives and livelihoods such a decision is not just anti women but also anti people.
Women form half of the work force and right to work and livelihood is a key to freedom for many women. This kind of contractual labour that doesn’t give right to maternity leave, right to form union or repeal such regressive decisions is just a glimpse of what the new labour codes that were passed stealthily during the pandemic.