Health service workers to walk out Monday
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
A total of 100,000 employees of the State health service, including nurses, professions supplementary to medicine (PSM) and Public Health Inspectors (PHIs), will stage a five-hour walk out on Monday (27). This is to highlight eight demands, including the resumption of the Rs 7,500 special risk allowance for COVID -19, at least till the pandemic is completely controlled, the Health Service Trade Union Alliance (HSTUA) said.
Co-Convener of HSTUA, Ravi Kumudesh, said the Government had commenced paying all health service the special COVID-19 allowance from June this year and had stopped it suddenly, without even discussing the matter with health service employees. “Probably the Health Ministry thinks that we have seen the end of COVID19, little realising that the infection continues to pose a severe threat to the country.
All categories of employees in the State health service are engaged in controlling and preventing the virus, he said. “Therefore, we demand that this payment be made to all, health service categories engaged in control and preventive work, at least till the pandemic is under complete control,” he stressed.
Naming their grievances, Kumudesh alleged that the Health Secretary sidelined all other health service categories giving predominance only to the medical service. He probably thinks that those categories are not required for the functioning of health services which is why the Ministry has been lopping off overtime allowances paid for working on off days and making health a closed service.
The Co -Convener alleged that the Health Secretary had mixed up “profit and benefit” which had led to the current dissatisfaction in the State health sector where COVID prevention and control was concerned. The Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) President, Saman Ratnapriya said that the demands also included the filling of vacancies in all health categories, provision of special leave during COVID without restrictions, issuing the circular which includes nursing as a staff category and provision of facilities including proper transport services for the health services during this difficult period.
He noted that 44 health service trade unions are ready to walk out. However, services with regard to COVID and Cancer patient care, maternal and child care in hospitals would continue uninterrupted, he added.