Nurses in the Maldives have expressed concern over salary changes and working hours, local media reported, following new Health Ministry guidelines introduced earlier this month.
If a nurse’s previous basic monthly salary was MVR5,600 (US$362), the new guidelines push it up to MVR9,000, according to Mihaaru. A service allowance of MVR2,500 goes up to MVR3,000.
However a risk allowance, which attendants, receptionists and doctors at hospitals and island health centres were eligible for, and a shift duty allowance has been cancelled, meaning earnings are lowered by about MVR700.
Nurses were entitled to overtime pay if they worked longer than six hours, whereas the new framework only permits overtime for shifts longer than eight hours.
Nurses “should be treated the same as other civil service employees or just like police and the military, be excluded from civil service and treated through a special framework,” one nurse told Mihaaru.
Civil servants normally work six hours.
Nurses also opposed the cancellation of night shift allowances.
“This policy makes working during official working hours and working while staying up late at night exactly the same. This is not fair. Who would want to leave their children at home and spend the night working?” another nurse said.
Contrary to the Health Ministry’s claims that even the most junior nurses would be able to get an MVR14,000 salary, junior nurses said their MVR13,500 salaries will go down to MVR12,800, Mihaaru reported.
The ministry said the framework was to help nurses pursue further education and training through appraisals as well as “encouraging” nurses.
Nurses at publicly owned hospitals and health centres will be appraised every two years based on educational qualifications and performance.
In 2014, a total of 3,828 medical staff were reported to be working in all public health facilities and more than half of these were nurses.
Raajje.mv reported that nurses were signing a petition to complain about the new guidelines through a Facebook page with over 1,500 members.
The petition lists 10 points of concern, with nurses lobbying for a reaction from the Health Ministry. Nurses have said that if they do not receive any response they may consider striking.