The public will once again be at the receiving end tomorrow when the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) together with trade unions representing teachers, nurses, and transport workers launch an island wide strike over the SAITM issue. However, despite the strike, GMOA President Anuruddha Padeniya will offer private consultations at leading private hospitals across the country for a fee.
The GMOA today confirmed that over 20 trade unions will support their one day strike tomorrow as the government had failed to offer an acceptable solution to them over the SAITM medical campus in Malabe.
The All Ceylon Transport Employees’ Association General Secretary Sepala Liyanage had also extended support to the GMOA’s strike on grounds that it was not possible to ‘produce a doctor’ like a bus driver or conductor.
The 21 trade unions including the Ceylon Teachers’ Services Union, Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Independent Education Employees Union, the Railway Guard’s Association and the Railway Driver’s Association will take part in the strike. Reports also said that some other trade unions who will not be actively taking part in tomorrow’s strike will be wearing black bands as a mark of protest against the government’s decision to give recognition to SAITM and its students who are studying to be doctors.
However, Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne had said that he was not scared of such actions and the strike was a conspiracy to topple the government by the GMOA which is working with the Joint Opposition. Meanwhile, GMOA’s Nalinda Herath has warned that if they do not receive a favourable response by the government soon, the GMOA will be compelled to go on a non-stop strike from May 9.
Functions at Lady Ridgeway hospital, Maharagama Cancer hospital, De Zoysa and Castle Maternity hospitals are expected to continue without any interruptions despite tomorrow’s strike.
In September last year, the GMOA launched a token strike across several hospitals in the country in an attempt to pressure the government into granting admission for their children to 12 popular schools. Analysts pointed out that the main reason the GMOA was against SAITM was because they fear if any private institute produces doctors, they will lose their many perks and hence was holding the country’s public to ransom in an attempt to safeguard themselves.
GMOA President Anuruddha Padeniya, a Paediatric Neurologist, who will take part in tomorrow’s strike at government hospitals, will however continue his private practice at six private hospitals tomorrow, where each session will cost Rs. 1925 inclusive of hospital fees, according to the doctor booking website e-channeling.