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Strike looms over overtime payment

The clerical and minor staff of the Health Ministry warned that they would resort to strike action if the Health Secretary did not withdraw a circular which cancelled their over time. A majority of the health services carried out in the internally displaced camps of the Vanni had to be handled by the minor and clerical staff of the Ministry during their off days.

Informed sources of the Health Ministry said yesterday (05) the situation had occurred due to lack of funds in the Ministry. The lack of coordination at the Ministry has led to the financial crisis, they said. There are instances when Health Ministry officials travel to the Vanni the same day at different times in separate vehicles- when they can all easily travel in the same vehicle and cut down on the cost. There are many such discrepancies.

Staff grades don’t have over time (OT) payments. Only the clerical and minor staff are paid OT. A majority of them survive with the OT they receive, sources said. The said circular revoking the payment of staff OT was released on Tuesday (04). This includes all other institutions affiliated to the Ministry.

The circular has created a strained and tense atmosphere among the Ministry staff, they said.

The President of the All Ceylon Health Services Union (ACHSU), Gamini Kumarasinghe said they would send a written request to the Health Secretary demanding immediate withdrawal of the circular. "We will give him a week’s notice before resorting to strike action," he said.

The Health Ministry owes over fifty million rupees to service providers and drug suppliers. They are unable to pay them owing to the financial crisis the Ministry faces. But that does not mean that the peons, the labourers, and the clerical staff have to put up with such injustice, Kumarasinghe said.

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