Nurses’ unions warn of an indefinite strike

Nurses’ unions have warned that an indefinite island wide strike action will be launched from the 7th of July if a suitable response to their grievances are not provided by the government.

Three nurses’ unions withdrew from services and are engaged in a 48-hour sick note campaign.

The trade union action was launched jointly by the Public Services United Nurses Union, the Government Nursing Officers Union and the All Ceylon Nurses Union.

The union action was launched based on nine demands including demands for a Rs.15,000 allowance as transport and accident allowance, which was agreed in 2015, amendments to the existing promotion and appointment policies and for all nursing schools in the country to be transformed into university faculties.

The Government Nursing Officers Association said the strike action launched by nursing trade unions is a success.

Chairman of the Association Saman Rathnapriya said the strike action is underway at 1,103 hospitals and health and nursing institutions.

Rathnapriya said a nurse after the first appointment receives the first promotion in ten years, adding that a doctor is issued the first promotion two years after receiving the letter of appointment and the second promotion is granted in nine years.

He charged that nurses however wait 20 years for a second promotion. Rathnapriya questioned the justice behind such actions.

He also claimed that a government servant works five days a week while nurses work six day of the week.

He called for such discrepancies to be corrected. Saman Rathnapriya also charged the Ministry of health of failing to provide nurses at COVID-treatment centres and hospitals with N95 masks.

The Chairman of the Public Services United Nurses Union Venerable Muruththettuwe Ananda thera said health officials must bear responsibility of the trade union action.

The thera added indefinite union action has been planned if the government fails to address demands through the sick note campaign.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the All Ceylon Nurses’ Union, SB Mediwatta said all treatment services have been halted except for emergency services at hospitals adding health officials were informed on many instances not to prompt nurses to such a situation.

Mediwatta said they have requested the government to solve all reasonable issues.

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