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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka health workers to go on strike March 02, 03 over salary anomalies, other demands

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka health workers have announced another two-day token strike n March 02 and 03 demanding solutions for unresolved issues in the sector, the Federation for Health Professionals said.

The health workers’ first round of strikes on February 07 ended by mid February following an order issued by the Colombo District Court and a discussion held with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

However, the unions said the health ministry has failed to respond to their demands within the 14 days the unions had given the government.

“We have not yet been informed of any action taken on the requests agreed upon by the Minister of Health,” convener of the Federation for Health Professionals Ravi Kumudesh said in a statement on Monday (28).

Kumudesh said the intervention of the president on the issue of salary anomalies and overtime and specimen allowances is of paramount importance and the creation of two posts of Directors of Paramedical and Paramedical Services which can be easily resolved and the issuance of a circular for the 5/7 promotions approved by the cabinet have not yet been issued.

“The Ministry of Health has not acted in good faith to prevent trade union action,” he said.

FHW said the strike will take place on March 02 and 03 at all hospitals in the country. However, it will provide immediate and urgent services as required with regard to essential treatments. The strike will not apply to the Children’s Hospitals, Maternity Hospitals, Cancer Hospitals, Kidney Hospitals, Infectious Diseases Institute, Angoda Mental Health Institute and Angoda Central Blood Bank.

“However, the executive council of the federation has unanimously decided that we will go for a continuous strike from March 10 onwards, if the ministry fails to reach a settlement within the next three days,” Kumudesh said.

The main demands of the strikers are as follows:

  1. Elimination of salary anomalies in paramedical, nursing and paramedical services in line with the Sri Lanka Eligibility Framework.
  2. Issuing the circular for 5/7 promotions as approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and making it pre-dated
  3. Establishment of the posts of Director and Deputy Director General of Paramedical, Paramedical and Nursing Services
  4. Working as agreed to increase overtime and specimen allowances not increased by 23 years (Colombo/Feb28/2022)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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