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Health Workers’ Strike Threatens Sector, Causes Concern for Public Welfare

A looming strike action planned by health workers today is anticipated to disrupt the health sector and pose inconvenience to the general public.

Trade unions representing the health sector have announced an island-wide strike scheduled to commence at 8:00 am today (16). This widespread protest involves 27 trade unions within the health domain, primarily expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to increase the Disturbance, Availability, and Transport (DAT) allowance for doctors.

The focal point of contention is the demand for health workers to also receive the DAT allowance, which has led to a series of token strikes in hospitals, causing disruptions in healthcare services last week.

Despite 50% of the wage demands being met, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has staunchly opposed the island-wide strike, deeming it unjustified. Dr. Haritha Aluthge, Secretary of the GMOA, highlighted that only 15% of the requested DAT allowance increment has been fulfilled for doctors.

Dr. Aluthge emphasized that, despite the government meeting half of the demands, the protesting health workers persist in pushing for higher salaries. He revealed that the government had already granted Rs. 10,000 of the requested Rs. 20,000 increase, completing 50% of their financial demands.

Critiquing the protesting health workers, Dr. Aluthge drew attention to the majority’s position in secondary and primary grades of government service, contrasting them with senior-grade doctors.

In contrast to the widespread strike, the All Ceylon Nurses’ Union has opted not to participate, choosing instead to conduct a demonstration in front of government hospitals during lunchtime on the scheduled strike day.

The Health Ministry has invited trade union leaders for a meeting at 12 noon today to discuss their grievances. However, the trade union representatives have emphasized that the strike will not be called off unless a satisfactory solution is granted, maintaining their stance despite the proposed meeting.

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