Health staff strike continues…

Number of hospitals have been disrupted by a strike launched today by Trade Unions against the placement of unqualified political henchmen to hospital system. Commenting on the strike, Comrade Piyatissa Madapatha, Media Secretary of the Sri Lanka Janaraja Health Workers Union said,

“The strike was launched by 21 trade unions in hospitals today. The demand of the unions is to withdraw the politically recruited less educated employees to hospital work for training. Under this program Government recruited 100000 workers who couldn’t pass the O/L exam. Usually, labourers who are the lowest rank in the health service are required at least 6 passes in G.C.E. O/L. But some of these new attached workers have not passed even grade 8. The other thing is that these people are not under the control of the Ministry of Health. These 100000 workers belong to a division of army task force headed by an Army officer. These people are being trained to sabotage the democratic struggles of the workers.

There was a discussion today to discuss about this strike. The Health Secretary, several Army officers and the Minister in charge of Police Sarath Weerasekara were also present at the discussion. Although the Health Secretary was attended, only military officers spoke. They said they would temporarily suspend the deployment of their employees. They refused to give any written confirmation to this effect. Three government-affiliated trade unions that were involved in the strike withdrew from the strike on the verbal promises of these officers. But other unions will continue the strike tomorrow as well. Roy de Mel, a leader of one of the trade unions in this government, is an Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Labor. They withdrew from the battle for fear of losing their posts if they opposed the government’s decision. Even if they give up the fight, the other unions will continue the fight.”

Interviewed by Wijepala Weerakoon