Thiruvananthapuram: Nearly 50 nurses from Kerala who went to Iraq in search of financial security are today facing slashed salaries, security threat punctuated by a sense of being a prisoner in the hospital premises.
"We are literally prisoners within the hospital premises. There are no Iraqi employees here. Day before yesterday, the Red Cross came here and recharged our SIM cards," Marina Jose was quoted as saying by NDTV. "We don't know where the old management is. They all escaped from here. And the new management says they don't know about our previous contracts and the responsibility lies with the old management," Marina said.
Another nurse, who chose to be anonymous, told news agency IANS, "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."
According to her, 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.