Striking health workers ignore court ruling, vows to meet govt. challenge
Posted on February 12th, 2022

By Rathindra Kuruwita Courtesy The Island

Striking health sector trade unions yesterday (11) declared that they wouldn’t call off their trade union action in spite of a Court ruling issued the previous day. Top spokesperson for the trade union grouping Government Nursing Officers Association (GNOA) head Saman Rathnapriya emphasised that they hadn’t been informed of enjoying orders issued by Court.

District Judge of Colombo Aruna Aluthge has issued two enjoining orders preventing unions from continuing its trade union action.

We have only heard of such an order from the media. We were not called before the Court; nor have we been informed of such enjoining orders. Trade union action is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. If we had been called before the courts, we would have explained why we were doing this,” the former UNP National List MP said.

Countrywide hospitals were severely affected by the strike, launched on 07 Feb.

Rathnapriya said that if the Court had actually issued enjoining orders and his union had been officially informed of them, it would convene a meeting of their executive committee and taken a decision.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh, told The Island that they would file a case against the Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Maj. Gen. Sanjeeva Munasinghe for failing to take tangible measures to prevent them resorting to trade union action.

This strike could have been easily averted. We had given ample time for the government to address our seven demands. However, they did nothing. Secretary to the Ministry of Health could have discussed with us during the past three months. He ignored the demands of 65,000 health sector professionals and that is what has led to a union action. He is responsible for the inconvenience that the people are experiencing,” Kumudesh said.

The CMLS head said that, they were ready to meet any attempts of oppression head on. Instead of making false allegations to undermine legitimate trade union action, the Health Ministry must solve the issues faced by its employees, Kumudesh said.

Now, they are claiming that a person has died at Bibile and they are trying to blame us. Apparently, an ultra sound scan had to be performed and those who perform ultra sound scans are not on strike. If the life of a patient was lost due to conducting surgery, under inadequate facilities; those who took that decision must be held responsible.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwelle said that he expected the health workers to return to duty, respecting the Court order.

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