Northeast doctors protest discrimination
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 13 March 2001, 15:50 GMT]
“Refusing to grant a section of employees working in a government department allowances because of their place of birth despite their equal standing with the other employees is discriminatory. This action compels us to the conclusion that the permanent residents of the north and east are second-class citizens” said a statement issued by doctors on strike in government hospitals in the north and east Tuesday.
The Sri Lankan government pays a special allowance (110 percent of the salary) to doctors from outside the northern and eastern provinces working in hospitals in the Jaffna, Vavuniya, Tricomalee and Batticaloa districts. Doctors from the two provinces have been demanding that they too should be paid the same allowance as they face greater risks and problems than their Sinhala colleagues.
| Patients and visitors at the Batticaloa general hospital entrance Tuesday. The OPD and clinics did not function. Only emergency services were available because of the doctors strike. (Photo:TamilNet)|
The statement issued by the coordinated branches of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) in the Northeastern Province said that the Ministry of Health had agreed in conjunction with the Public Services Commission had agreed to pay a special allowance to all the doctors working in the region. But last year the Ministry had issued a circular that only doctors who are not permanent residents of the province would be paid the allowance, which is 110 percent of their normal salary. (A doctor drawing 15000 rupees in Colombo would be paid 31500 rupees when he is posted to Batticaloa of he is not a permanent resident of that district)
“Despite our petitions and objections, the government paid the allowances for last year only to the Sinhala doctors working here”, a member of the GMOA in Batticaloa told Tamilnet.
“The doctors from the other provinces are given quarters inside the hospital complex. So they are safe. We are the one’s who have to face the insecure situation outside” he said.