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Indian nurses in N.Z. start hunger strike

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, July 25 (UPI) -- Eight male nurses from India are on a hunger strike in New Zealand to protest the rejection of their registration by the Nursing Council.

The nurses have been camped near a statue of Mohandas Gandhi outside Wellington's train station since Tuesday, The Dominion Post reported Wednesday.

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The men say they are qualified to be nurses and others in their position have had their registrations accepted, while the Nursing Council says each candidate was assessed individually.

"Until last year all the Indian nurses who came over here with the same qualifications have been accepted as registered nurses," Mathews Jose, 30, told the newspaper. He said he has been offered retraining, which he says he can't afford, and he wants other nurses with his qualifications to be returned to India if he isn't deemed qualified.

Nursing Council Chief Executive and Registrar Carolyn Reed said a recent tightening of registration rules applies to everyone, but she said the council is looking to find a solution.

"I need to know who they are. They seem to think we need to deal with them as a group," Reed said, adding, "I think the Nursing Council is not without a degree of sympathy for these people in their individual situations but our role is to keep standards high in New Zealand."

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