Seventy-two health sector trade unions would commence an indefinite strike from today (16) at 6.30 am, President of the Joint Council for Professions of Supplementary Medicine, Ravi Kumudesh, told The Island on yesterday.
Kumudesh said that the unions had been compelled to launch a strike because the government had ignored the overwhelming majority of health sector workers and increased the Disturbance, Availability, and Transport (DAT) allowance only for doctors.
Health Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana is scheduled to meet health sector unions at 11 am today.
Kumudesh said the Cabinet-of-Ministers had, on 08 Jan. approved a proposal to double the DAT allowance for doctors. Now, doctors receive a DAT allowance up to Rs. 70,000 per month.
Kumudesh said he had written to the Health Minister Ramesh Pathirana asking for a meeting.
However, they would continue to work at all paediatric, cancer and kidney hospitals, the Central Blood Bank, and the Institute of Mental Health on a voluntary basis, Kumudesh said.
“If the government tries to break the strike by deploying the military or if some senior officials try to intimidate striking workers, we will withdraw from the voluntary services as well.”
President of the Paramedical Services Front (PMSF) Upul Rohana mentioned that about 100,000 health workers would be on strike, starting Tuesday.
Secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), Dr. Haritha Aluthge, said the strike was unfair.
“These unions have asked for a salary increase of Rs 20,000 for the state sector workers. There were no other demands. The government has agreed to give a salary hike of 10,000 rupees. Now these unions also want a 35,000 rupee hike,” he said.
Dr. Aluthge said that there were many grades and categories in the state sector.
“When the salaries of Supreme Court judges are increased, the office assistants do not demand a similar salary hike,” he said.