Aug 28, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government today appealed to the striking supplementary medical staff in state hospitals to consider the inconvenience to the people caused by their continuing strike and return to work.
The Joint Trade Union Federation of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM) which include, pharmacists, radiographers, medical laboratory technicians, physiotherapists and occupational therapists launched an indefinite strike on Tuesday to win six demands.
Issuing a statement Minister of Health Maithreepala Sirisena said that the Health Ministry has always tried to resolve problems without resorting to strikes.
He said that three out of the union's six demands are currently being discussed and positive solutions for those issues will be drawn in about a months' time.
The union, among others, demands the government to grant the promotions in their trades that have been suspended for a long time, implement Class One, Special and Supra-Grade promotions, increase salaries and recruit 200 graduates of supplementary medical science for the vacancies in hospital services.
Deputy Minister of Health Lalith Dissanayake, appealing to the striking workers, asked them to think positively about the humanitarian aspect and end the indefinite strike.
He said the failure of the talks held yesterday (August 27) was due to differences on the PSM demand for promotions.
The Deputy Minister said he had promised to the trade union representatives that the Ministry would take the approval of the Cabinet within two weeks and urged them to end the strike. But the Trade Union representatives did not agree to call off the strike which according to the Deputy Minister is severely affecting the functions at state hospitals.
"We have already given this assurance. Hence they should view this positively about the humanitarian aspect of the issue and call off the strike. Now the only issue to be solved is the grades of promotions. For this we have already set up a cabinet sub-committee and the committee will submit their recommendations to the Parliament to solve the issue," Dissanayake said.
Dissanayake said the strike has affected daily operations at certain hospitals. As a result of the strike, laboratories, medicine supplies, X-ray units and many other services have come to a standstill.
The Minister requested the paramedical trade unions to consider the lives of innocent patients receiving treatments from state hospitals and end the strike as the Ministry is taking measures to provide all demands raised by the strikers.
The union has exempted Lady Ridgeway and the Peradeniya Sirimavo Bandaranaike Children's Hospitals, Mahamodara, Castle Street De Soysa and Panadura Kethumathi Hospitals for women and the National Cancer Institute, from the strike and assured to maintain emergency and lifesaving services during the strike.