Administrative trade union strikes, politically motivated: Rajitha | Daily News


Administrative trade union strikes, politically motivated: Rajitha

The Cabinet of Ministers have decided to launch an awareness campaign to educate the public about the politically motivated strikes recently launched by certain unions; Health, Nutrition, and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said.

He was speaking at the 84th annual meeting of the Public Health Inspectors’ Union, last Saturday, at the Rose garden Hotel in Batuwatte, Kadawatha.

This was stated in a press release issued by the Health Ministry, yesterday.

The minister added that in the recent past, a decision was taken to give salary increments to a number of government officials during a meeting with trade union representatives. However, those in the administration service had not agreed to accept the increment.

Moreover, a discrepancy in salaries occurred as Ministry Secretaries agreed to the increment, the minister said. He said that some sections of the government servants had been given increments ranging from 200 to 300 percent. Given this context, the decision taken by some trade unions to go on strike is politically motivated, and their aim is to undermine the government, he added.

Minister Senaratne said that the government would decide on what to do about these strikes during a meeting that is to be held at the Ministry of Finance.

The minister said, “We have granted all the professional demands that you had asked. We appointed the Ranugge Commission on government sector salaries. The Cabinet had agreed to implement the proposals of this Committee. With this, your salaries will increase again from Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000.”

“This administration has taken steps to increase salaries of the state sector. No other government has granted such increments. I met the Executive Officers’ Association and when I looked at the salary increments they had received, it seems that all government servants have received a 107-percent salary increase in general,” he added.

Furthermore, some sections of the state service have received salary increases ranging from 200 to 300 percent. Yet some unions have latched on to some minor discrepancies in salaries and have taken to the streets. This is done merely to make life difficult for the government, the minister said.

“President Maithripala Sirisena called a Cabinet meeting on September 27 and said that these strikes are politically motivated. No other government had granted such significant salary hikes. We will give another hike with the implementation of the Ranugge Commission Report. The government has decided to call several ministers to the Finance Ministry, and we will take steps to explain what is going on to the public,” he said.

The minister said that the salaries of executive officers were increased recently.

The Secretary to the Cabinet, the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, and the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance were asked to appear before the Cabinet to discuss the issues that have arisen, he added.

“They told us that the salaries were increased in the same manner from the post of Secretary downwards. However, the Executive Officers Union didn’t accept this hike. The proposal was to increase salaries from Rs.15,000 to Rs.50,000. A secretary was to get a Rs.50,000 increase,” Minister Senaratne said.

“While the other executive officials refused the increment, the secretaries accepted them. And now, they are saying that the secretaries had increased their salaries through unethical means. But this happened because the executive officials refused to take the increment. The Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration informed me that these officers are asking for an increment that they once refused. I have repeatedly stated that it is not acceptable for administrative officers to go on strike. This doesn’t usually happen. For example, doctors go on strike, but those in the medical administration continue to work to ensure that the services are uninterrupted,” he added.

The minister added that he was extremely happy to take part in an event to celebrate the 106th anniversary of the establishment of the public health inspector service in Sri Lanka. He said that since the 1950s, the country’s primary health indicators have been excellent.

“According to UNICEF and World Bank reports, our children’s and maternal mortality rates are comparable to the USA. Chairperson of the World Elders’ Union, Rasha Meshelle, said that the development of a country’s health sector is not tied to its economy, and that the best example for this is Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan health indicators are better than some states in the USA, which is the world economic superpower. We have accomplished this although we are a lower middle-income country,” Minister Senaratne said.

The minister added that the government had granted all the demands of the public health inspectors, and that steps were been taken to empower them more.

“The Food Act will be implemented soon. We have enacted the Prevention of Mosquito Breeding Act to grant you various powers. The Attorney-General’s Department is going through another Act that will further empower you,” he said.

The Public Health Inspectors’ Union holds this general meeting annually to discuss professional issues, and to appoint new office-bearers. A number of public health inspectors were felicitated and a special memento was given to the Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne to acknowledge his services to the health sector.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union Chairman Upul Rohana, former Health Ministry Chief Public Health Inspector Jayatissa Nanayakkara, Ruhuna University Allied Health Sciences Faculty Dean Dr. K.G. Imendra, and Government Nursing Officers’ Association President Saman Rathnapriya attended the meeting.

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