ECONOMYNEXT – Health workers in Sri Lanka continued a protest campaign for the seventh day running on Monday (14) in defiance of a court order and a presidential gazette, disrupting routine work in government hospitals and inconveniencing thousands of patients.
Hundreds of protestors marched outside the president’s office in the heart of the commercial capital Colombo early on Monday carrying placards with slogans that demanded solutions to salary anomalies, an increase in the special duty allowance to 10,000 rupees and the establishment health administration services among seven demands.
The Colombo district court issued two enjoining orders last week against the Government Nursing Officers Association (GNOA) and its president Saman Ratnapriya ordering the suspension of their trade union action until February 24.
However, all health sector trade unions but the GNOA, exploiting a loophole of the court ruling, continued their protest, which led President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to declare the public health sector as an essential service last Friday night.
President Rajapaksa and the health sector trade union workers have been at loggerheads ever since the leader appointed some top military officials to ensure efficiency in the health services during the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
As a result of the ongoing trade union campaigns, patients were not treated in many government hospitals and medicines not issued, people across the countries have said.
Rathnapriya and the GNOA have threatened to seek justice from an international court for what they claim is the suppression of the health sector through Rajapaksa’s gazette declaring it an essential service. (Colombo/Feb14/2022)