Minor staff at State hospitals threaten strike
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Minor employees have threatened to protest outside State hospitals if the Government fails to give solutions to five of their demands, including the continuance of the COVID risk payment.
The Joint Health Workers’ Union (JHWU) warned that hospital minor employees would stage a series of protests outside government hospitals today (22) for the continuation of payment of Rs 7,500 as COVID-19 risk allowance which was afforded to them only till the end of last month. JHWU General Secretary, Ven. Tampitiye Sugathananda Thera, said the Government should not stop the payment during the entire period in which all employees were faced with the looming threat of being infected by the virus.
Also, minor employees who had been in home quarantine faced severe difficulties when attempting to obtain the ‘Agrahara Insurance.’ They have been under medical observation during the entire period, but were faced with issues when attempting to claim the money. The Union demanded that the Government ironed out these issues for these employees who had already faced enough hardship. The Thera said they also demanded that the Government give permanent appointments to all substitute minor workers who had completed 180 days in the health service.
With the severe shortage of minor staff in hospitals owing to the COVID situation, the Government should make this set of employees permanent and recruit new people to fulfil the cadre shortage, he said. The JHWU General Secretary demanded that hospital minor staff be paid 1/30 for the additional hours they worked during their six-day work week.
He accused the Government of hoodwinking the public by making a mere show of a lockdown when all liquor shops had been opened, while factories and essential services were allowed to function. In addition, the Government claims that it has no money and has given several acres of State-owned land, while the people were burdened with the rising cost of living. The Thera said Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella too had been briefed with regard to their demands and the impending trade union action. If the issues are not resolved by the end soon, the minor employees would stage their protests tomorrow (22), he warned.