The indefinite strike, called by nurses in Kerala from Monday, has been suspended till July 19, following an intervention from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO).

The decision was taken on Saturday after the CMO stated it is ready to hold talks over the issues raised by the nurses, including wages. Chief Minister’s political secretary MV Jayarajan held telephonic conversations with the nurses' association leaders.

Kerala health care in crisis as 80,000 nurses to go on strike

However, United Nurses Association (UNA) stressed that if the demands for higher wages are not accepted during the meeting on July 19, it would continue with the strike. The nurses have been on strike for the past few days demanding minimum wages of Rs 20,000 as fixed by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court had on Friday barred nurses' organisations from resorting to their proposed indefinite strike from July 17.

Invoke ESMA against striking nurses: Kerala High Court

Justice PB Suresh Kumar stayed the proposed nurses' strike on a petition which argued that their services fall under the ambit of essential services and sought invocation of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) provisions against striking nurses. Justice Kumar also issued notices to four nurses' organisation and the state government, seeking their stands on the plea.

An estimated 80,000 nurses were ready to go on indefinite strike from July 17, demanding higher wages, affecting the functioning of private hospitals in Kerala. Private hospital managements have said they would be able to provide only emergency services from Monday in view of the strike call.

The UNA and Indian Nurses Association (INA), spearheading the ongoing stir, had said they would intensify the protests from next week.