Now nurses, PSM and paramedics demand DRT

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Professions Supplementary to Medicine warned yesterday they would resort to trade union action once more if the government failed to increase their overtime rates and other allowances by next week, in line with increases given to doctors.

President of the Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine Harendra Kuruppu said that they also demanded an allowance which was akin to the enhanced Disturbance, Availability and Travel (DAT) allowance that was given to doctors recently.

The trade union alliance, which consists of professions supplementary to medicine (PSM), nursing and paramedics said they too wanted a Disturbance, risk and travel (DRT) allowance.

Chairman of the Government Nursing Officers Association (GNOA), Saman Ratnapriya said that in 2001 grade one doctors were paid Rs. 150 per hour, which had been increased to Rs. 300 per hour in 2008. The OT allowance of grade one doctors was increased to Rs. 370 per hour in 2012.

He said that similarly the OT allowance of Grade two and grade three doctors too had been increased. They also received a monthly travel allowance of Rs. 5,000 in 2001 which was increased to Rs. 10,000 in 2008 and a budgetary increment of Rs. 15,000 in 2012. Presently they were paid a travel allowance of Rs. 29,000 a month.

However, other government health professions, such as the PSM, the paramedics and nurses, had not received similar consideration despite the increase in fuel costs and the cost of living. Therefore, the joint trade unions demanded that they be paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 5,000 as DRT, he said.

The PSM Trade Union Alliance boss said that similarly the doctors were paid a monthly telephone and internet allowance of Rs. 6,000 in the 2012 budget which was increased to Rs. 12,000 recently. Ratnapriya insisted that the joint health trade union members should be paid a maximum of Rs. 4,000 a month as telephone allowance.

Ratnapriya warned that the joint trade unions would resort to immediate strike action should the government continue only to increase the allowances of doctors. The Health Ministry had one more week to settle the issue. Failing which the trade union coalition would decide on their next mode of action to win their demands, he added.

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