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On 12 May 2024, International Nurses Day, UNI Global Union affiliates in India’s healthcare sector organized events across several states of India to honour Florence Nightingale’s birth anniversary and highlight the crucial role of nurses and healthcare workers. This year’s theme, “Our Nurses! Our Future!”, emphasized the economic power of care.

Kicking off in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, the JSNGEF/RIMS hosted a discussion attended by 150 healthcare workers. The event speakers stressed that healthcare workers deserve social, economic and cultural security, with salaries and benefits that reflect the significant responsibilities they shoulder in their workplaces.

In Bihar’s capital city of Patna, the BRCKS gathered 60 care workers from ASHA/Aganwadi and various hospitals. The speakers underscored the transformative power of workplace organizing and how it can provide dignity and purpose to workers. Sister Pushpa Pandey, a community health worker leader, shared her inspiring account of resilience and the vital support she received from the union during her fight for justice.

The Rastriay Mazdoor Sangh (RMS) hosted a gathering of care workers in the Maharashtra city of Pune to discuss the importance of economic empowerment in promoting gender equality within the healthcare workforce. Speakers called for amplifying workers’ voices and standing up against injustice through collective solidarity actions to address pressing issues healthcare workers face.

“The women community health workers who actively participated in the discussions showed remarkable leadership and dedication,” said Rajendra Acharya, UNI Asia & Pacific Regional Secretary. “We must continue to develop initiatives that enhance collaboration among government, institutions and worker representatives to ensure fair treatment in the healthcare industry.”

Alan Sable, Head of UNI Care, praised the strong show of leadership by the UNI affiliates in leading the local activities. “These efforts critically contribute to the global advocacy for decent employment opportunities in the care industry, including the ongoing campaign to prioritize the Care Economy at the upcoming International Labour Conference (ILC) in June 2024,” he said.

UNI Care in South Asia aims to elevate the discussion of care workers’ issues at the ILC, further amplifying the voices of those dedicated to delivering essential care services.