Non-medical health staff strike today

  • Talks with Pavithra on allowance hike fail

By Dinitha Rathnayake


Members of the non-medical health trade unions are to conduct a five hour strike at island-wide hospitals today (11) following the failure of talks held with Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi regarding an increase in the allowance of non-medical health staff.

The strike will be against the Health Ministry’s purported duplicitous policy of increasing only the allowances of medical health staff, specifically doctors, and recommending the provision of an additional service allowance only to medical staff.

The Government Nursing Officers Union (GNOU) President Saman Rathnapriya, speaking to the media yesterday (10), said that the discussion held with the Minister did not yield the desired results.

“Our trade union action is against the attempt to divide the commitment of the entire health staff and over neglecting the commitment of the non medical health staff by the medical administration in collaboration with Wanniarachchi. Health authorities did this in the past and they are doing it now to take advantage of us. According to a Cabinet paper presented by Wanniarachchi, it was requested to increase the said allowance for medical staff by 78% which means Rs. 41,220 for the medical staff and Rs. 78,120 for the medical staff in the senior category. This has been approved without even considering the amount that should be paid per month. This allowance will be provided to the medical staff this month,” Rathnapriya alleged.

However, Health Ministry Communications Director and Public Health Services Deputy Director General Dr. Hemantha Herath said at a press conference that there is no such decision taken and that there has been no increase in the said allowance.

Meanwhile, Rathnapriya also claimed that there are around 2,000 nurses who have not been administered the vaccine.

“The first dose of the vaccine should be administered to 2,000 nurses including pregnant nurses. The health authorities are only concerned about the medical staff and their family members. What about the non-medical staff who work as front-liners?”

He also claimed that there is a requirement of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits including N-95 masks, and the need for transport facilities and food, which the health authorities are unable to deliver.

“There are around 150,000 health staff and the Health Ministry has to treat them equally without trying to create divisions between the service categories. This should be teamwork. This is what we are requesting,“ Rathnapriya added.

Excluding medical officers, approximately 35 unions would participate in today’s strike action including the para medical service, the nursing service, management assistants, ambulance drivers, and health assistants. The strike would start at 7 a.m. and end at 12 noon. A protest would also take place at around 12 noon.

Dr. Herath said that the unions have their freedom to take trade union actions. However, the services would be maintained without disturbing the operating theatre or emergency services.