Paramedics to go on 48-hour strike

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A total of eight health categories of paramedical staffers in the State health services will stage a 48-hour strike against the fuel shortage.

The Paramedical Front (PMF) will stage a 48-hour trade union action by not reporting for duty.

When contacted yesterday (28),PMF’s President Upul Rohana warned that eight trade unions will not report to work in protest against the Health Ministry’s inability to ensure that fuel is provided for paramedical services. Several rounds of discussions have been held with the Health Minister and the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) to resolve the issue. Although several sections of State sector employees have been given concessions to work from home,healthcare workers have to report daily to work and no arrangements are being made to ensure they are provided with fuel to help them to perform even field services.  

Fielding questions, he said that fuel sheds had been allocated to provide fuel for vehicles of essential services, including those of the health service, but they did not have petrol and diesel on Friday (24). Also, there is the possibility of the provision being misused, he said.

Even though preference was to be given to essential services, the fact is that even those who were given the choice of working from home too made use of this benefit. Rohana said they had also appealed to the DGHS to prioritise categories, even among the health service, that should get preference for fuel.

Paramedical categories are paid Rs 1,200 as a fuel allowance which is severely inadequate at present owing to rising costs. With that amount they can only purchase two litres of petrol for their motorbikes under the current prices. With a basic salary of Rs 32,000, no member of the paramedical service could cope with the increasing cost of living and the added burden of having to fill his or her fuel tank to carry out field work of their service.   

Rohana said that the PMF involved in the two-day token strike include Public Health Inspectors, Entomologists, School Dental service, EEG and ECG Recordists, Dental technicians, Dispensers and Public Health Laboratory Technicians.    

By Dilanthi Jayamanne