Kochi: A leading hospital in the country was recently seen in a war of words with the labor department, after the labour department recently performed a surprise inspection at the hospital. While the labour department found various discrepancies related to minimum wage and leaves, asking the hospital to rectify the discrepancies, the hospital said that the department exceeded their jurisdiction, not informing the hospital authorities about the inspection and then by threatening to inform and call the print and visual media.
TOI reports the Labour department officials conducted surprise inspection at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) on Tuesday and found gross violations of labour laws at the hospital. The inspection happened after the department allegedly received complaints that the hospital was not paying minimum wages to its Amrita Seva Kendra (ASK) workers who work at the posts of cleaners, attendants and patient aids It was also alleged that that their remuneration ranged between between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8000, whereas the minimum wages that they should be paid lies anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000.
The Labour department officials during the inspection met around 300 staff in all the departments and concluded that many employees were not getting minimum wages and overtime wages. Other deficiencies pointed out the by department included, retaining the certificates of pharmacy staff and not giving them adequate leaves. The department also issued a stop work memo after noting that there was not enough safety measures undertaken at the under construction hostel building. The department then gave the hospital 2 weeks notice to the hospital to rectify the discrepancies, failing which action with be initiated.
One day after the inspection, the hospital released a statement, providing a pointed rebuttal to the “observations” of the labor department, while also adding that the officials “exceeded their jurisdiction by threatening to inform and call the print and visual media.
“We believe the statutory authorities exceeded their jurisdiction by threatening to inform and call the print and visual media. No clarifications have been sought from the hospital, leading us to make a statement to the media and clear any misperception that may have arisen”
The note went on to add that, they (hospital authorities) fully comply with the provisions of Labour legislations “without any default”. For the discrepancies so pointed, the hospital replied
- Response on ASK Workers- Since the hospital is managed by Mata Amritanandamayi Math, there are many volunteers at Amrita Hospital who serve in various departments like cleaning and house-keeping, projects and pharmacy for their own individual satisfaction, without expecting any monetary benefit in return. These volunteers, mainly deputed by the Math, are not the employees of Amrita Hospital. They report to the Math for doing sewa (social service). They are provided free accommodation and food. These volunteers do not receive any salary from the hospital, but only a small allowance towards reimbursement of their expenses.
- Response on Pharmacy – they also appoint some qualified but inexperienced students straight from the pharmacy college as trainees. Handling medicines is a great responsibility, so these students are treated as trainees from six months to one year based on their qualifications.
The hospital also stated that the officials at Amrita Hospital authorities didn’t receive any inspection note from the Labour Commission. “The officials began their inspection without notifying the hospital officials or its human resource department. They directly entered the ward, the pharmacy, and other restricted areas of the hospital without any intimation,” said R Ranganathan, Additional General Manager (Human Resource Department), AIMS said to the press.