Docs call off strike, while Court holds medical services to the public cannot be disrupted

The Government Medical Officers Association yesterday claimed that the Ministry of Finance has agreed in principle to settle the Disturbance, Availability and Transport (DAT) allowance for doctors within “a couple of months.”

“We called off the strike on Friday as there were new developments during discussions with the Finance Ministry,” GMOA President Dr. Anurudhdha Padeniya told the Sunday Times. “Our discussions extended to the telecommunication allowance.”

On Friday, Colombo District Court Judge G. A. D. Ganepola issued an enjoining order and an interim injunction forbidding the GMOA from engaging in strikes and any trade union activity that disrupted public health care.

In a submission to court on behalf of a National Hospital patient, lawyer Faiszer Musthapha said members of the medical profession registered in Sri Lanka were duty bound to provide uninterrupted medical care to patients, and that ethical conduct among medical professionals dictated that doctors should at no time exploit patients.

Counsel also told court that public funds were used for a fully state-sponsored medical education for the GMOA professionals, who had no moral grounds for denying the public continuous medical services.
The District Judge ordered that the enjoining order be effective till May 25.

“Under the trade union act, we have a legal right to call for trade union action, Dr Padeniya told the Sunday Times. “We are therefore very much disturbed about this development. We have asked our lawyers to study the injunction order.”

Dr Padeniya said the President had agreed in 2008 to upwardly revise the DAT allowance to Rs. 29,000, but the war had held up the allowance increase. Doctors continue to receive the old DAT allowance of Rs.15,000, he said.

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