Health sector trade unions to launch indefinite strike

Monday, 12 February 2024 - 17:21

In a development that could disrupt healthcare services across the nation, health sector trade unions have announced their decision to resume their trade union action. Talks held with the Ministry of Finance regarding their demands failed to yield any agreement, prompting the unions to proceed with their planned course of action.

Seventy-two health sector trade unions, excluding doctors’ unions, have declared their intention to initiate an indefinite strike starting from 6:30 a.m. tomorrow (February 13). The unions highlighted that the decision was made after discussions held with representatives of the Finance Ministry earlier today regarding their demand for the extension of the Disturbance, Availability & Transport (DAT) allowance to all healthcare personnel did not produce satisfactory outcomes.

The start of this latest escalation dates back to January 8 when the Cabinet of Ministers approved President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal to double the DAT allowance paid to government doctors, effectively raising it from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 70,000. This decision prompted discontent among other health workers, leading to protests and trade union actions.

In response, various health sector employees’ trade unions, representing professionals such as radiology and laboratory technicians, pharmacists, midwives, Public Health Inspectors, and entomology officers, initiated strikes on multiple occasions to protest the government's decision and demand an allowance increase for all health sector employees.

Efforts to find a resolution were made last week when discussions were held with the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance. However, despite the formation of a committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, and professionals tasked with deliberating on the trade unions' proposal, a stable resolution was not achieved within the stipulated timeframe.

As a result, the health sector trade unions have decided to forge ahead with their strike action.

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