Workers at the state-run St George Hospital staged a protest yesterday, claiming that the hospital's authorities have allotted a quarter earmarked for the nursing staff to an artist working for the Government Dental College (GDC).
Nursing anger: About 25 nurses of St George had their eyes on the
quarter, and were in the waiting list for it. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The hospital union alleged that the quarter meant for the hospital's emergency staff had been given to the artist, thanks to his proximity to the Medical Education Ministry. Each medical institution has recognised posts for artists, whose work include taking photographs of rare or significant surgeries, as well as illustrating important procedures or anatomical parts for students and doctors. Ashish Dalamkar, who was allotted the contentious quarter, is one such artist working for the GDC.
Though heated skirmishes over quarters is a frequent occurrence in the government setup, the three-room apartment inside the hospital compound in CST -- that is at the centre of the conflict - was reportedly eyed by many of the hospital's employees. About 25 nursing staffers had already applied for the said flat.
Learning that the quarter had been allotted to an Ashish Dalamkar -- an artist working for GDC, the hospital's union joined into protest, bringing work at the hospital to a standstill for almost two to three hours.
Vithoba Padave, president of St George's Workers' Union, said, "The quarter has been lying vacant for a few months now, and as it was earlier occupied by a nurse, it should be given to nurses in the waiting list, according to seniority. But the superintendent allotted the quarter to an employee of another hospital.
His work as an artist can in no way be classified as emergency work." Upset with the decision, the union held a meeting with the hospital superintendent. "When we spoke to the superintendent, he told us that there was a request from the Medical Education Ministry, and that he could not do anything," added Padave.
When contacted, Dr D R Kulkarni, medical superintendent, said, "There are no specific rules when it comes to allotting quarters. There was a request from the higher-ups of the institute and thus we complied with their request. But since the union staged a protest today, I have revoked the allotment and the quarter will only be given to a nurse."
Ashish Dalamkar said, "I had requested for the quarter because I wanted to pursue a course in clinical photography from an institute in south Mumbai. I am a resident of Kalyan and commuting daily from there was not a feasible option."
Dr Mansingh Pawar, dean of GDC, said, "The artist had requested for the room from the superintendent of St George hospital, which is our sister-concern institute. But if any of their nurses are unhappy about one of our employees being allotted the quarter, then he will not accept it. I have already asked him not to take the accommodation."