Health workers in Sri Lanka continue strike despite court order

ECONOMYNEXT – Health workers in Sri Lanka have continued an ongoing strike for the fifth consecutive day despite two restraining orders issued by the Colombo District Court against them.

The Sri Lankan Federation of Health Professionals started its strike last Monday (07) to demand solutions to seven demands.

Health workers also launched several token strikes in 2021, and on February 6 this year, they announced a continued strike across the island from the following day.

The claims are as follows

  1. Approved by the Council of Ministers on July 05, 2021,
  1. Absence of distribution of the nominative circular of the posts within the framework of the confirmation of the ownership of the personnel.
  1. As for the first class promotion system after 12 years,
  2. Delay in the dissemination of circulars relating to the paramedical and paramedical professions
  3. Obtained Cabinet approval again to defer relevant decision until 01.11.2010 to remove anomalies.
  1. Eliminate the parallel pay disparity caused by the elimination of teacher pay anomalies alone, maintain the pay policy in a way that does not violate Sri Lanka’s eligibility framework and implement the recommendations of the pay committee of Ranuk.
  1. To determine the overtime rate, calculate 1/80 of the base salary for all healthcare professionals and update the call and sample allowance accordingly which has not been updated for 21 year.
  1. Establish the correct salary scale corresponding to the professional degree and provide suitable positions / employment opportunities.
  1. Creation of a “Health Administration Service” representing all health professionals.
  1. Special Duty Allowance increased to Rs 10,000
  1. Transform the services of health professionals into closed services.

The strike is led by 16 groups of health professionals, including medical laboratory scientists, pharmacists, radiologists, cardiologists, public health inspectors, family health workers and pharmacists.

Following a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General on Thursday against the Government Nurses Association, citing inconvenience to the public, the Colombo District Court issued two restraining orders against the strike, valid until to February 24. One of the restraining orders was against association organizer Saman Rathnapriya.

However, despite court orders, healthcare workers are continuing the strike for the fifth day in a row.

Rathnapriya told reporters on Friday (11) that no such order had been communicated to him officially.

“We learned from the media that a restraining order has been issued to stop the strike. But it has not yet been transmitted to me or to the association. And hitting is one of our statutory rights. If we had been summoned to court, we would have provided our facts,” he said.

A decision whether or not to stop the strike will be taken by the association after a general meeting in the event that a restraining order is formally issued to them, he said.

“Along with salary increases for teachers, we are asking for an increase in our own salaries. This responsibility rests with the government, the Ministry of Health and the National Salaries Commission. Until that happens, it is impossible to stop this strike.

Meanwhile, Federation of Health Professionals organizer Ravi Kumudesh told reporters on Friday (11) that the association would take legal action against the secretary of the Ministry of Health.

“We are suing the health secretary for public inconvenience caused by allowing a strike to be prevented,” Kumudesh said.

If authorities resort to repression when things can be negotiated, unions are ready to deal with it, he said.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said on Friday authorities expect workers to abide by the court order and return to work, ending public inconvenience. (Colombo/February 11, 2022)

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