Health sector affected by pay cuts

 Concerned over cutting of OT payments: TUs
o No concerns raised officially with Govt.: Minister

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Health sector unions have raised concerns over the cutting of the health staff’s overtime (OT) payments that were promised by the Government during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

They alleged that due to the current financial crisis faced by the Government, the OT payments and other allowances of health staff had not been given, including the payments for their days off and public holidays.

Speaking to The Morning, All Ceylon Nurses’ Union (ACNU) President S.B. Mediwatte said the health staff were instructed to work on a shift basis but due to Covid-19, they were initially told that they would be paid for their days off and public holidays, but now the authorities were trying to cut down those allowances and pay only their basic salaries.

Highlighting the difficulties faced by the health staff during the pandemic, he stressed that the health staff managed to provide their services even during the curfew period without expecting any additional allowances.

“Many health workers used their private transport when public transport was not operating and they had to find their own personal protection equipment (PPE) while exposing themselves to the virus. Even after putting their lives at a risk, the Government is not paying them the allowances that they are entitled to,” Mediwatte noted.

The ACNU urged the Government to pay all the allowances, and to also pay 1/20th of the basic salary for the days the health staff worked to control the spread of the virus, as a motivational allowance.

Meanwhile, Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardana said no complaint had been made to the Government by any recognised health union regarding such an issue.

However, if there was an issue with regard to the salaries of health sector staff, it will be discussed at this week’s cabinet meeting, according to Minister Dr. Gunawardana.