Largest nurses union too threatens strike

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU) yesterday warned it would resort to a strike if the Government failed to give them a Rs. 20,000 professional allowance in proportionally parallel to the Rs. 15,000 increase made to the Disturbance, Availability and Transport allowance of doctors.

The PSUNU Deputy Chairman and National Organiser for the South, Dayananda Boralessa said that the increase to the DAT allowance of doctors would raise it to Rs. 40,000.

Explaining the alleged unfair situation, he said that the PSUNU held discussions with the former Treasury Secretary and impressed upon him that they had no issues with monetary benefits being given to other health sector trade unions.  However, the nursing profession too should be recognised and were entitled to receive such benefits as it required the collaboration of both doctors and nurses to improve the medical care of patients.

 The Deputy Chairman said that the Secretary had agreed to increase several of their allowances on that occasion including the risk allowance paid to nurses. However the decision was temporarily put on hold owing to the elections at the time, he said.

Boralessa observed however that there was no reason for the present government to refrain from carrying out the decision taken by the former Treasury Secretary. "We don’t want to cause a dilemma to the government, however would have no choice but to take a decision to go for a strike if it failed to comply, he said.

Responding to a question as to whether the PSUNU would support the next week’s token strike by the Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA), the Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM) and 16 Paramedic trade unions, he said that the strike was only being staged to counter the strike to be staged by doctors.

Meanwhile PSM General Secretary Saman Jayasekara when contacted said that the unions would stage a token strike next Thursdays (12) demanding the Health Ministry to give them a Rs. 15,000 increment to their allowances parallel to that which would be paid to medical officers as a DAT allowances. At present they received Rs. 25,000 as DAT in addition to all other allowances and their salary. The starting salary of doctors amounted to approximately Rs. 26,000 while the starting salary of PSM categories amounted to Rs. 15,000.

The former Treasury Secretary pledged to put the payment of the revised DAT allowance on hold till proportional revisions were made to the allowances being paid to other government health categories, he said.  

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