Gives govt two weeks to come up with new overtime formula
Ratnapriya flexes his trade union muscle

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The National Trade Union Front (NTUF) yesterday urged the government to come up with the much needed formula to resolve the overtime issue of three health services categories within two weeks.

Addressing the media at the Pharmacist Union Office in Colombo, NTUF President, Saman Ratnapriya said that the overtime allowances paid to nursing, Professions Supplementary to Medicine(PSM) and paramedic categories were not revised according to salary increases. All other public sector employees were paid overtime according to a formula depending on their basic salary. Their overtime was 1/240 of their basic salary.

However nurses, PSM and paramedics have been urging the government to implement a similar formula for them. He said the three categories had received a considerable salary increase in the 2017 budget – a 22 per cent increase. The three unions had waited for one year expecting the government to resolve the issue but to no avail. He said the trade union alliance would be forced to take a decision when they meet next week regarding the issue.

The NTUF President said that all manpower agencies should be done away with. He said although some institutions had made their manpower employees permanent only Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) had been unable to do so to date. Some of these manpower employees had been serving SLT for a very long time and were due for retirement in a few years.

He said that their alliance of trade unions had met with Minister of Telecommunication, Chairman Sri Lanka Telecom and the manpower employees in an attempt to help mediate a settlement to no avail. There were employees in Telecom who received over a 1,00,000 monthly fuel allowance and they were paid exorbitant salaries. However it seems that the institution did not have the funds to make these manpower employees who have been protesting on the road for the past several days permanent.

Ratnapriya commended the government for increasing the salaries of public service employees as proposed in the 2017 budget. He said there had been a 22 per cent increase. This was inclusive of the Rs. 10,000 that had been pledged during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. However the former President had been unable at the time to meet the entire Rs 10,000 pledge, he had given only a Rs. 2,500 salary increase instead.

However the government had been able to give the increases during their 2016 and 2017 budget proposals, he claimed. The unionist, who is also the President of the Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) said with the increase given by the Ranil Wickremasinghe government, a labourer’s basic salary was increased from Rs. 14,234 (in December 2016) to Rs. 16738 (January 2017), salaries of teachers were increased from Rs. 16,276 to Rs 19,142. The basic salary paid to nurses was increased from Rs. 19,001 to 22,382 while the salary increment paid to medical officers had increased from over Rs 31,000 (last December) to Rs 37,000 (this year). Ministry Secretaries had been given a Rs 10,000 increment, he added.

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