GMOA tells court that as a trade union it has a right to take legitimate action

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) says it is a registered trade union, with every right to take trade union action if a situation called for it, and that a case filed against the GMOA that sought to stop it from taking such action should be dismissed.

The GMOA has filed objections in the Colombo District Court challenging Ms. Juliyana Dahanayake of Mirihana, Nugegoda, who sought a court order last year to stop the GMOA from taking trade union action on October 4, 2011. Consequently, Colombo District Judge Dhamika Ganepola made an interim order restraining the GMOA from holding trade union action until May 3, 2012.

The GMOA said the interim order should be withdrawn because the plaintiff, Ms. Juliyana Dahanayake, had “misrepresented material facts.” In her objections, Ms. Juliyana Dahanayake had claimed to be receiving treatment for respiratory illness, and that the GMOA’s planned trade union action was illegal and went against medical norms and ethics.

Last year, GMOA president Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya had publicly expressed concern about a government decision to set up private medical colleges. He had said that such medical schools were no guarantee of properly qualified medical professionals. Dr. Padeniya had been subsequently harassed by persons who made false accusations of bribery against him, while Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) registrar Dr. N. J. Nonis, who had also expressed reservations about the setting up of private medical colleges, was attacked shortly after by an armed gang. The GMOA said trade union action was necessary to protest against harassment of medical professionals and safeguard their interests, rights and privileges.

There was no medical record of Ms. Juliyana Dahanayake having had a respiratory problem, or being diagnosed with a respiratory disease, or being given treatment given for a respiratory disease, the association said. She was admitted to the National Hospital on September 20, 2011, after a “sudden loss of consciousness”, and was discharged three days later, on September 23, long before the date (October 4, 2011) scheduled for the GMOA trade union action. “The plaintiff has deliberately suppressed and/or misrepresented material facts to the court,” the GMOA said, adding that Ms. Juliyana Dahanayake was wrong in assuming that all doctors working in government hospitals were members of the GMOA. Less than 50 per cent of the doctors working at the Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital, where Ms. Dahanayake said she was admitted, were members of the GMOA.

Furthermore, doctors attached to the Castle Street Women’s’ Hospital, the Lady Ridgeway Hospital and the De Soyza Maternity Hospital do not participate in trade union action, the GMOA said. Regardless of any trade union action, emergency situations at all hospitals are duly attended to, the GMOA maintained.
The GMOA rejected Ms. Dahanayake’s claim that her purported medical treatment had been affected by GMOA strike action, adding that the strike action scheduled for October 04, 2011 was lawful. The GMOA was a registered trade union, with every right to engage in trade union action, and the case initiated by Ms. Juliyana Dahanayake should be dismissed.

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