Health unions decide to temporarily call off strike
Posted on February 15th, 2022

Courtesy Adaderana

The health sector trade unions currently on strike have decided to temporarily call off their strike for 14 days from 8.00 a.m. tomorrow (15).

Co-convenor of the Federation of Health Professionals Ravi Kumudesh said that all 18 trade unions have decided to temporarily call of the strike from tomorrow. 

Earlier today, the Federation of Health Professionals had said that the final decision on whether or not to continue their strike action would be taken today (15).

Mr. Kumudesh had said that the minutes of the discussion held with the Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella last evening regarding their demands has been received and that thereby a decision on continuing the strike will be taken. 

The strike action launched by several health sector trade unions had continued for the ninth day today.

The Government Nursing Officers’ Association alone had decided to withdraw from the strike following an enjoining order issued by the Colombo District Court.

However, the remaining 17 trade unions had opted to continue with the strike, which had severely disrupted services and activities at hospitals across the country. 

Eighteen health sector trade unions including those affiliated with nursing, supplementary and paramedical services commenced an indefinite strike from 7.00 a.m. on February 07.

The island-wide strike was staged based on demands including transforming health professional services into closed services, increasing the special duty allowance to Rs. 10,000, eliminating parallel salary anomalies caused by eliminating only teacher salary anomalies, the establishment of a ‘Health Administration Service’ representing all health professionals and the delays in providing solutions to problems that have arisen for health professionals.

However, the strike had not taken place at cancer, maternity and pediatric hospitals, hospitals for treatment of kidney diseases as well as the central blood bank. The strike was also not extended to emergency and lifesaving services.

On February 10, the District Court of Colombo issued two enjoining orders against the Government Nursing Officers’ Association and its chairman Saman Ratnapriya calling for the immediate suspension of their trade union action.

The enjoining orders were issued after taking into account a request made by the Attorney General. He had filed action against the said union and its chairman, seeking an enjoining order from the court to immediately suspend the trade union action of the said association.

The Attorney General also appraised the court of the current deplorable conditions at hospitals due to patient care has been gravely affected.

The Government Nursing Officers’ Association decided to withdraw from the strike following the court order, however the other trade unions had decided to press forward with it.
Meanwhile on February 11, the Presidential Secretariat had issued a special gazette declaring the supply of electricity and provision of healthcare as essential services.

Thereby, electricity supply and provision of healthcare have been identified as essential services for the conduct of ordinary public life.

As per the gazette notification, the supply of electricity” and all service, work or labour, of any description whatsoever, necessary or required to be done in connection with the maintenance, and the reception, care feeding, and treatment, of patients in hospitals, nursing homes, dispensaries, and other similar institution” will now be considered essential services.

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