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Paramedics to strike as HM passes the buck

Nearly 5,000 paramedics, of 37 Government-run and 400 Provincial Council-run hospitals, will launch a one-day token strike today (20) in protest against the Health Ministry’s inability to resolve some of their core issues, the All Ceylon Health Services Union (ACHSU) said.

ACHSU President Gamini Kumarasinghe said pharmacists X-ray technicians, radiography technicians, laboratory technicians and physiotherapists will participate in the strike.

During the past 7 years, although a number of trade unions had urged the Health Ministry to solve several problems affecting the paramedics, no action had been taken by the Health Ministry. The rationale for today’s token strike was that the Health Science graduates who had been recruited to serve as paramedics had not been provided with the required facilities, training and grading in accordance with the recruitment policy.

Kumarasinghe said that apart from provision of facilities, training and grading, constant delays in appointments, special grading, provision of service minutes and promotional prospects had been deliberately neglected. Unless the Health Ministry intervens and rectifies matters sterner trade union action would follow.

He said striking unions had agreed to provide emergency services at all hospitals during the strike.

Minister de Silva emphasised that the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission were accountable for the plight of paramedics and the Health Ministry was unable to resolve the core issues affecting them as long as the Universities, Higher Education Ministry and the University Grants Commission were silent over the issue.

Minister de Silva said that it was common sight that the GMOA and Health Services trade unions to clamour over certain issues several times a year to show the people that they had commitments towards the country and their members. Otherwise these unions would not be able to retain their members, he said.

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