PHIs resume strike

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Public Health Inspectors’ Union resumed their temporarily suspended trade union action by staging a protest, opposite the Health Ministry last afternoon, demanding an increase in their office and fuel allowances.

PHIU Secretary Senarath Bandara said yesterday that the Treasury had only complied with one of their demands – an increase in the uniform allowance.

PHIs island-wide also staged a sick note campaign simultaneously, he said.

Bandara said the Treasury was willing to pay only ten thousand rupees as uniform allowance whereas nurses were granted Rs. 15,000 for their dress. He said that PHIs had been paid Rs. 500 earlier. "However, the present increment is inadequate to stitch and maintain our uniform," he said.

Unlike nursing, PHIs have to carry out their service in the field. The PHIs should at least be paid Rs. 5000 more, he said.

However, the Treasury has refused the fuel and office increments. PHIs are paid Rs. 100 as an office allowance, but their demand is for it to be increased to Rs. 2,500 for those serving in urban areas and Rs. 2,000 for those serving rural communities. Their demands also include a monthly fuel allowance of Rs. 7,500. They are paid a monthly fuel allowance of Rs. 1,200 at present.

The duties allocated to PHIs include the control of communicable diseases, food sanitation, school health, occupational health, environmental health, waste management and health education.

When contacted, Health Ministry sources said there were some issues that could not be settled at the Ministry level and required the intervention of several other authorities. "We have discussed the issue several times with the PHIs and the Treasury but have been unable to arrive at a settlement as funds are a problem, they said. Sources said the PHIs were going to extremes by refusing to hand over reports following the dengue week.

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