In a significant development, 72 trade unions representing various segments of the health sector have announced an island-wide strike set to commence, February 1, at 6:30 am. The collective action is being taken to press for the fulfillment of demands related to the Disturbance, Availability, and Transport (DAT) allowance, specifically allocated for doctors.

Although the President had promised to hold talks with uninons regarding the allowances, soon after returning from his recent official overseas tour, the health workers said they have yet to meet with the Head of State for discussions.

On January 08, the Cabinet of Ministers gave the approval to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal to double the DAT allowance paid to government doctors, raising it from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 70,000.

Since then, the health sector employees’ trade unions representing a wide range of health sector professionals, including radiology and laboratory technicians, pharmacists and drug compounders, midwives, dental surgeons, public health inspectors, and entomology officers launched strikes on multiple occasions in protest of the government’s decision and demanding an allowance increase for all health sector employees.

On January 16th, members of 72 trade unions from the health sector launched a 24-hour strike.