Thiruvananthapuram: The State government Tuesday offered three options to the 534 nurses who had to return from Iraq and Libya due to the conflict in those countries.
The options were finalised at a meeting here chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and attended by officials and representatives of five companies owning hospitals in the Middle East and in the country.
Of the 534 nurses, 39 hold a BSc nursing degree, while the remaining hold a diploma in nursing.
A government official who attended the meeting told IANS on condition of anonymity that there are practical difficulties faced both by the nurses who have not got their experience certificates from Libya or Iraq, and by the hospital authorities, because such certificates are essential for getting a job permit in all the Middle East countries.
"After discussions, three options have been put forward to the 534 nurses. On Nov 18, these nurses have to convey their decision," said the official.
In the first option, these nurses will be given three months training here to prepare for the mandatory tests. Upon clearing the tests they will be given jobs in any of the Middle East hospitals owned by the five companies which took part in today's talks.
In the next option, the nurses can work as 'Patient Aid' in these Middle East hospitals at a maximum monthly salary of Rs.50,000, and also prepare for the qualifying exam. Once they pass it, they will be absorbed as nurses.
The third option is that these nurses can work in any of the hospitals in the state owned by these five groups for a maximum salary of Rs.18,000 per month.
"The nurses have to indicate their preference on Nov 18 when the committee meets again," said the official.
Remya Jose, a nurse who returned from Tikrit in Iraq, told IANS that 15 of her friends who returned with her are now working with a private hospital in UAE, (who are partnering with the Kerala government for rehabilitating the returnee nurses).
"I was unable to go because my marriage was fixed. Now on the 18th of this month, I will be giving my option and I would now prefer to work in Kerala itself. My friends who have gone to the UAE are happy with their work," said Jose.
Currently, the expenses for the nurses to take up a job in any of the Middle East countries, come around to Rs two lakh including fees, airline ticket and other charges. But if these nurses opt for any of the three options they will have a free recruitment.