Strike cripples health services

by Harischandra Gunaratna
The strike launched by the Health Services Trade Union Alliance yesterday affected work in most of the government hospitals and inconvenienced the patients.

Patients in hospitals were provided only breakfast. Lunch could not be given as the workers had joined the four hour strike yesterday, sources said.

Patients who had come for treatment at the OPD and clinics were left high and dry. Relatives of those wounded in accidents were seen pushing the trolleys themselves as minor workers had joined the strike.

Doctors and nurses of the Colombo South Hospital were seen pushing trolleys to transfer patients from wards to the operating theatre.

Thirty eight workers in Colombo South Hospital, who were recruited after the previous strike had also joined the strike.

The strike was joined by Pharmacists, x-ray technicians, laboratory trechnicians supported by the clerical staff and others in supplies units.

"The strike launched by the Health Services Trade Union Alliance yesterday will continue till 12 noon today" joint convenor Sararh Ratnapriya said.

"We are calling on the government to approve the cabinet paper to be presented in Parliament on December 3 regarding the health services salary anomalies," he said.

Ratnapriya claimed that the strike was a success island-wide and it was launched in the Health Ministry, all administrative units, all government hospitals and provincial health institutions.

"If our demand is not met we will take stern trade union action," Ratnapriya warned.

Dr. Nihal Jayatillake, Additional Secretary, Medical Services told "The Island" that the Health Ministry had submitted the salaries proposal to the cabinet last week and it had been referred to a cabinet sub committee. Dr. Jayatillake hoped the matter would be settled soon.

Dr. Reggie Perera, secretaty to the Ministry of Health was not available for comment as he was reported to be at a meeting.