Sri Lankan hospital workers strike

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 September 2003, 11:29 GMT]
Thousands of workers excluding medical officers, nurses and pharmacists in the government hospitals in Sri Lanka began their strike Wednesday morning as talks held between the health ministry officials and leaders of the Health Sector Trade Unions' Alliance (HSTUA) Tuesday night failed to a reach a consensus on a demand for the removal of salary anomalies, government sources said.

HSTUA spokesman Mr.Saman Ratnapriya said Wednesday members of the alliance would continue their strike until the health authorities meet their demands, sources said.

The government presented a set of proposals at the last night meeting with the HSTUA delegation to eliminate salary anomalies. HSTUA spokesman said the proposals have undermined the basic demands of the workers.

The workers who are on strike belong to the categories of medical laboratory technicians, attendants, telephone operators, ambulance drivers, cooks and sanitation labourers, sources said. The HSTUA represents fifty-three health sector trade unions with the member strength of approximately seventy five thousand, trade union sources said.

Health ministry has issued instruction to all its regional officials to fill posts rendered vacant by the absence of casual, temporary and relief workers from Wednesday.

Meanwhile provincial and district hospital authorities have been asked not to transfer any serious patients to Colombo, Kandy and Kurunagala hospitals for emergency treatment as the strike by hospital workers would have a serious impact on the functioning of these institutions, government sources said.

Health ministry asked the police to strengthen the security surrounding all government medical institutions and take stern steps to maintain law and order, sources said. Trade union sources said emergency services would be maintained during the period of strike.

In the meantime health authorities have asked relatives of patients who have been warded in hospitals to be prepared to supply food in the case of a breakdown in the hospital catering service, sources said.


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