Health workers in 20 hospitals threaten strike

By Dilanthi Jayamanne | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 19 2021

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

Health workers in 20 hospitals including Gampola and Peradeniya Teaching Hospitals and General Hospital Nagoda will hold a protest today (19), demanding the Health Ministry and the Government respond to ten demands of the minor staff.

General Secretary of the United Health Workers’ Union (UHWU), Ven. Tampitiye Sugathananda Thera, yesterday (18), said the demands include an extra duty payment of 1/3 of the basic salary of minor employees who work six days of the week. He said employees of the State sector worked only five days of the week. The situation differed when it came to the health service where minor employees too were expected to work six days of the week, which means an additional eight hours of work, he said. 

Also, the UHWU demanded for casual and substitute minor employees to be made permanent. He said there were minor employees who had completed 180 days over a year ago, while in hospitals in the Sabaragamuwa Province, there were minor employees who had completed the 180-day period over five years ago. These employees would not even be paid their salaries if they contract COVID-19, as they have were not made permanent. 

He said the Health Minister had pledged to submit a Cabinet Paper to sanction approval for permanency in their jobs. But till now nothing has been done.

He said the uniform allowance given to minor employees too had to be increased to Rs 15,000. The last time an increment was given was in 2014. The former Government pledged to increase it to the above mentioned amount for minor employees, but failed. The Government had promised to increase it from January this year, but had failed to do so, he said. 

Moreover, he said his union had written to the President, the Premier and the Health Ministry regarding their grievances on several occasions, to no avail. The union has held several protest campaigns in this regard. The Government, he said, had forgotten the promises it made before coming to power. 

The protest would be held at several Base hospitals including Balapitiya, Alpitiya, Panadura and Horana, and District Hospitals of Rambukkana and Aranayaka.  

By Dilanthi Jayamanne | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 19 2021

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