In a move that could further cripple the country’s healthcare system, more than 25,000 minor employees of Health Ministry today joined nearly 5,000 paramedics who are on strike since last week.
The ministry has announced that casual workers who failed to report for duty by 12.00 noon yesterday would be considered to have vacated their posts.
“Almost all these employees have been recruited on lists sent by government members. If they choose trade union action as the way repaying a good turn let them do it and lose their job,” Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said.
All Ceylon Health Services Union General Secretary Gamini Kumarasinghe said hospital attendants, labourers and cleaners took part in a countrywide strike from yesterday as a means of urging the government to grant five demands - a uniform allowance instead of material for uniforms, a payment for working on Saturday payments, a service minute and a salary increase.
“We are only demanding that the Health Ministry fulfills the pledges given to the employees,” Mr. Kumarasinghe said adding that trade union action would not be called off until all their reasonable demands were granted.
Meanwhile the trade union action launched by paramedics on February 12 continued for the 8th day yesterday inconveniencing thousands of people who visit government hospitals daily.
The strike by Medical Lab Technicians, Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Radiographers and Occupational Therapists at state hospitals has severely affected the dispensing of drugs, scanning, X-rays, testing of specimens and ECGs.
The hapless patients have been compelled to seek these services at private hospitals and laboratories and to purchase drugs from private pharmacies.
Army personnel have been deployed to assist hospital staff in performing routine duties after the minor staff struck work (Sandun A. Jayasekera)