Kerala nurses in Iraq's Tikrit say salaries cut

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Kerala nurses in Iraq's Tikrit say salaries cut
Thiruvananthapuram, June 17: Nearly 50 nurses from Kerala working in Iraq's Tikrit city have been struck a double blow as not only have they been affected by the strife there, but their salaries have also been cut drastically.

A nurse told IANS over phone from Tikrit that 46 nurses were working at a government hospital in Tikrit.

"Thirty of them reached here last August, while 16 came this February. They were all promised a monthly salary of $750. But today (Tuesday), a new manager told us that the government that hired us has changed and now the new government can only pay $200," said the nurse, whose identity has been withheld.

She said the nurses want to return at the earliest.

"We hear sounds of explosions outside, but since we are inside the hospital complex, so far we have had no issues.

"The major issue is the dramatic drop in our salary. Most of us have come after paying Rs.1.5 lakh as recruitment charges. For those who came in February, till date no salary has been paid, and now they say we have to work with a reduced pay," the nurse said.

She said they were in touch with the Indian embassy in Iraq and the Red Crescent and asked them for jobs in other hospitals.

"We are all praying that something works out," she said.

Meanwhile, another nurse from Kerala working in the Baghdad Medical City, where there are 15 hospitals, said they were "absolutely safe" and got their salaries on time.

"When reports of the unrest surfaced, the hospital management was told they need not fear anything and that we were perfectly safe.

"We have not been affected and there has been no explosions or unrest in our place. The management has told us that if anyone wants to leave, they can," the nurse said.

Another nurse from Kerala who works in the Karbala region, about 70 km from Baghdad, told IANS that they had no problems and everything was normal.

The office of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told IANS that it was keeping close contact with the external affairs ministry and a meeting will be held soon to take stock of the situation in Iraq.

IANS

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