Galle PHIs stage token strike

PHIs at the press briefing. Picture by Mahinda P. Liyanage, Galle Central Special Corr.

Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) of Galle went on a token strike yesterday, demanding solutions to several issues surrounding PCR tests, COVID-19 clinics, shop inspections, hospitalisation of COVID-19 patients, school health programmes, the COVID-19 patient quarantine process, and the disposal of the bodies of those who have died of COVID-19.

One hundred and eighteen PHIs from 20 Divisional Health Officer’s Divisions in the Galle District participated in the strike. The Galle Branch of the Public Health Inspectors’ Association held a media briefing yesterday to speak to the media and public about their trade union action.

“Several problems have arisen for the PHIs in the Galle District. We have been on duty for the past one and a half years, while risking our lives, but the authorities haven’t listened to our issues. Therefore, we have to take trade union action, even though we do not want to,” Public Health Inspectors’ Association Galle Branch President Pulina Ransinghe stated.

“We work 24 hours a day, but the authorities have reduced PCR inspections. Motorcycle fuel allowances have not been paid since August, 2020, and overtime allowances have been limited, despite us working ‘round the clock. However, we will not disrupt the disposal of the bodies of those who have died of COVID-19,” he added.

“At present, the Galle Municipal Council faces serious issues as well. The Office of the Medical Officer of Health has been shifted to another place, and Public Health Inspectors are being pressured to work there. Administering the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will not be possible if these problems are not solved immediately. The strike will continue until these issues are solved,” Public Health Inspectors’ Association Galle Branch Deputy Secretary D.M. Jayaratne said.

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