Hospital strike enters eighth day, no solution in sight

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 September 2003, 18:40 GMT]
The Health Sector Trade Union Alliance (HSTUA) strike in Sri Lanka entered its eighth day Wednesday with no solution in sight to the main demands as the Treasury committee has requested six weeks to study and submit recommendations to the salary anomalies proposals prepared by the health ministry sub-committee, Sri Lankan government sources said.

The main demands of the HSTUA are to increase the salary and remove all salary anomalies. A health ministry official said, "we have done our part and now the ball is in the Treasury's court."

Meanwhile, the health ministry Wednesday claimed that more striking employees are returning to work and many hospitals in the country have started routine operations. However, a HSTUA spokesman dismissing the ministry's claim and said that more employees are on strike crippling all activities in major hospitals including Maharagama cancer hospital, sources said.

The Public Services Nurses United Federation, headed by Venerable Muruthetuwewa Thera, said that his union would not oppose any increase of salary or removal of salary anomalies to the members of the HSTUA. Earlier it opposed the demands of the HSTUA, stating that nurses would launch trade union action if the demands of HSTUA were met, sources said.

Health ministry officials in the meantime ruled out the possibility of holding talks with the HSTUA leaders by the Health Minister.

There are about 98 thousand employees belonging to 280 categories in the health sector. Once the treasury approves the salary anomalies proposals submitted last week, approximately 3,300 million rupees will be required annually to pay increased salaries, health ministry official said.

The Health ministry has started recruiting retired health sector employees for fourteen categories, which included pharmacists, radiotherapists and medical laboratory technicians. Those recruited will be paid the salary at retirement together with their pension.

The health ministry has requested them to report to hospitals where they worked at the time of retirement. The health department has already recruited about 700 new persons replacing the casual, temporary and relief workers who joined the strike, sources said.


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