GNOA Nurses stage sathyagrha


By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) yesterday staged a sathyagraha demanding the much delayed increments in overtime, inventory and risk allowances.

GNOA President Saman Ratnapriya said the demands also included a five-day work week, grade promotions for last year and this year and annulling of the gazette notification which handed over the recruitment of nurses to provincial governments.

Ratnapriya said that nurses had braved the inclement weather conditions in many areas to stage the protest while those in Jaffna had set up platforms for the sathyagraha which commenced at 11.00 a.m. The main protest was held in front of the National Hospital and the Maharagama Cancer Institute, while Ragama, Kalubowila, Matara, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Jaffna, Baticaloa, Vavuniya and Monaragala hospitals joined in.

The Joint Convener of the GNOA Shelton Jayasinghe said that discussions had been held between the Health Minister, his officials and the GNOA last Friday (26) during which they had deliberated the Gazette notification issued early this month (Oct. 5)in which 75 per cent of nurses recruitment was handed over to provincial councils. According to the gazette, nurses had to serve in their first appointments given to provincial council hospitals for ten years.

Nurses were also banned from private practice. Jayasinghe alleged that those two new rules violated human rights as well as human relationships. If a nurse had to serve in his or her first appointment under the same provincial council for ten years she or he would not be able to marry a person from another province until the period of service was completed.

But, the GNOA was successful in having the number of years reduced from ten to five during discussions. However the Ministry is yet to make the necessary changes to the gazette, he said. The Ministry also agreed to settle the nursing graduate issue.

The Health Ministry and the Treasury have not shown positive responses to the five-day work week and the demand for allowance increments, he added.

Meanwhile, the nursing trade union, with the largest membership, the Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU) said that the GNOA was only after publicity - especially with regard to the recruitment of nurses through provincial councils. The PSUNU Chief, Ven. Muruttetuwe Ananda Thero said that the number of nurses applying for transfers would reduce tremendously if they were appointed to serve under their home provinces contrary to what the GNOA had to say. The nurses would be recruited from their provinces given a training and sent back to serve under their own provincial governments, he explained.

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