The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) this week had threatened to go ahead with the planned 24-hour countrywide token strike having various demands including that of rectifying salary anomalies among many other demands. It was said that if the government had failed to provide a probable solution that they would launch an indefinite island widestrike on a date that they would decide on. HOWEVER, The trade union later called off the strike following the assurance given by the Health Ministry officials to resolve its issues. The GMOA strike was launched at first causing much difficulties and placing many individuals in dire conditions but then had called the strike off.
Although the GMOA appeared to have settled their differences with the Health Minister on the SAITM issue, the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) said today it would continue the SAITM struggle regardless of the GMOA backing out of it. IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara said the GMOA can have their own idea and opinion on this SAITM issue irrespective and regardless of the IUSF’s stance on the conflict.
He noted that it would be appreciated if the GMOA continued to stay with them, however he went on to note thatthere was no bad blood between the two parties and that they have chosen to stay out of the struggle since they say that the student movement has no reason to trust either Rajitha or the Government, though the GMOA has done so.
Weerasekara said any ally could move away from the group and the flow of the fight could change by such actions. He also noted that the IUSF no longer believe that discussions with the authorities will help in resolving the matter. He added that the IUSF would continue its fight and struggle and that they no longer had faith in discussions. It was emphasised that they would support all their allies but those who stood against them would have to face consequences that followed.
In a new twist the GMOA which had been previously highly critical of Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, today lauded him saying the minister had committed himself towards granting their demands.It said the Health Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa was told by the minister to approve all their demands.The health authorities had agreed to grant nine of their demands including the release of annual duty free permits to the medical officers without any restriction.
Secretary of the GMOA Aluthge said the minister had given permission for the revision of recent amendments to promotions and curtailed allowances to medical officers made by the Ministry. The curtailed mobile phone allowance of Rs.4,000 was also reinstated after this.He said the demands would be sent to the National Salaries and Cadre Commission immediately with the minister directing that they be implemented as soon as possible.Dr. Aluthge said that the minister had also accepted the GMOA’s stance on SAITM. Meanwhile GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Naveen de Soysa said the union had not made a deal with the minister in the process of achieving their demands and that GMOA President Anuruddha Padeniya did not have any intention to enter politics.
He said the GMOA always tried to avoid taking strike action to achieve their demands and would do so in the future if the minister continues to have a positive attitude towards the association.
Dr. Soysa warned that government servants should avoid clashing with a powerful association like the GMOA and the Health Secretary who earlier held a position in the Tourism Ministry should never attempt to play with patients’ lives.