Hard on the heels of the protest staged outside the Health Ministry recently, 55,000 State health workers have warned they would launch a 48-hour (two-day) strike from 7 a.m. today (24) demanding the Health Ministry resolve six of their issues including the implementation of the ‘Ranugge Salary Commission’ report.
Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) President, Saman Ratnapriya said that according to the Ranugge Salary Commission recommendation approved by the Cabinet of the former Government, State health service employees were to be given a 50 per cent salary increment in 2019 and another 50 per cent in 2020 in order to rectify salary discrepancies.
However, health authorities and the Government were merely dragging their feet and pushing the state health service into further chaos, he said. Ratnapriya said that neither the Health Minister nor the Health Secretary were keen on resolving the issues of non-medical professions allied to the Ministry.
The Health Secretary who has been an army doctor has no administrative skills but was parachuted to the Ministry, he said. Only the Finance Minister acknowledged in Parliament during the budget that there were discrepancies in the salaries of health service employees.
The Government accepts that a family of four needs at least Rs. 64,000 a month to survive. But with the skyrocketing cost of living, how does the Health Ministry and the Government expect State employees to survive, he queried?
Ratnapriya said that parallel to the strike, protest campaigns would be staged in front of several major hospitals in the provinces on both days. Protests would be held before the Teaching Hospital Jaffna, Provincial General Hospital, Badulla, National Hospital, Kandy and Teaching Hospital Karapitiya, Galle.
However, Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH), Castle Street Hospital for Women, De Zoysa Maternity Hospital, ‘Apeksha’ Hospital Maharagama and hospitals treating patients suffering from COVID-19 would be exempted from the strike although the health employees would not ‘sign in’ on duty as usual, he said.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Dilanthi Jayamanne)