New Delhi: Around 5,000 AIIMS nurses went on an indefinite strike from Monday over their long-standing demands, including those with regard to the Sixth Central Pay Commission, disrupting patient care services. The nurses are demanding redressal of issues such as abolishment of gender-based reservation in the recruiting process of nursing officers, enhancement of hospital accommodation and cadre restructuring review.

AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria appealed to the nurses to call off their strike and return to work, stating that "a real nurse will really never abandon her patients".

In a video message, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria termed the strike as "inappropriate and unfortunate" in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and appealed to nurses to call off their agitation and return to work. "I appeal to all nurses and nursing officers not to go on strike, and not to make us feel embarrassed about the dignity that we have as far as the nurses are concerned. I, therefore, appeal to all of you to come back and work and really help us get through this pandemic," Guleria said.

In a directive issued to the institute's director, the ministry said non-compliance of the "code of conduct", laid down as per a Delhi High Court order, whereby no employee or staff or faculty member will cease work for any reason, will be treated as an offence under the Disaster Management Act.

"The code of conduct, inter alia, provides that there should be no cessation of work for any reason whatsoever or the aiding, or abetting of such disruption or cessation... it is hereby directed that AIIMS, New Delhi, should ensure that directions of the judgment of the high court are strictly complied with without fail and there should be no cessation or disruption of nursing functions in AIIMS nor such an action aided or abetted,” the health ministry’s order stated.

"Non-compliance will be treated as an offence under the Disaster Management Act read with the Indian Penal Code and action will be taken accordingly against defaulting authorities/employees," it added.