Written by Lahiru Fernando
06 May, 2017 | 9:30 am
Friday, May 4 – The Government Medical Officers Association and thirty other trade unions launched a one-day strike to protest against the private medical college SAITM.
Six trade unions representing doctors, including the GMOA, took part in the strike along with 18 trade unions representing nurses, and para medical services.
The strike was supported and joined by other trade unions representing the fields of education and transport.
Trade unions attached to CPC, CEB and several other government institutions expressed solidarity with the strike by protesting during their lunch break.
Doctors attached to the OPD of the National Hospital did not report to work. Patients, the ones who suffer the most during strikes carried out by the GMOA, were left inconvenienced and helpless.
According to our correspondents, other activities at the hospital were not affected by the strike.
Strike at the Kalubowila teaching Hospital affected OPD activities.
Our correspondents say the activities at Chilaw Hospital OPD were affected by the strike.
Adding up to the strike, a protest was staged opposite the hospital.
Activities of several outstation hospitals were also affected by the strike action.
However, despite trade unions attached to transport services joining the strike, bus operations continued as usual.
“Lightning should strike these doctors who have caused this injustice”
“Today is my clinic day, but I cannot get my medicine. They learn using public funds and they the commit such acts. This is completely wrong.”
“I came on the 7th of last month (April), they were on a strike then. I came back today and again they are on a strike.”
When News 1st toured several schools in the western province, we witnessed a high level of attendance among both students and teachers.
The actions of trade unions and GMOA alike have come under-fire from President Maithripala Sirisena himself.
President says that he asked the GMOA the reason for Friday’s strike and had requested for their concerns in writing.
“The first request was for SAITM to be taken over by the state”, said President.
Responding to the request, the President recalled the recent policy decisions made to make changes to SAITM.
“We decided to take over the hospital attached to SAITM. The institute which was controlled by a single individual will now be made an enterprise where its shares will be released to the stock market. The government has ordered for SAITM to be governed by an administrative board”, said President.
“So what else is left to do?” was the question which came from President Sirisena.
He also spoke of students who are not attending classes at the medical faculties due to “political reasons”.
“The time you waste by not attending classes will have an impact on your life. Use your knowledge and intelligence to serve the country. Do not become political henchmen.” he added.
Speaking of the other demands made by GMOA, the president revealed that some of them “do not have any connections to SAITM”.
The president said that one of the demands is to reach a policy decision on trade agreements with foreign nations.
“So, must you engage in a strike action for this? This government has not reached any trade agreement. I make it clear that I will not allow anyone to reach a trade agreement with a foreign nation that will not be advantageous to my motherland“, – President Maithripala Sirisena, responding to demands of GMOA.
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