Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unions vow to cripple essential services

By Kelum Bandara and Hemanthi Guruge - The trade unions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the Ceylon Electricity Board, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority yesterday vowed to go ahead with their three-day work to rule campaign from today rejecting the government assurance of a 22 percent salary hike from November this year.

Addressing the media, Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development Minister A.H.M. Fowzie said the government held extensive talks with trade union representatives on Monday, and agreed to increase the monthly salaries of CPC workers by 22 percent. The Minister said the increased

salaries would be paid from January next year, but would be effective from November this year.

“Their major demand was to honour the agreement that their salaries should be revised upward every three years. Accordingly, the government is supposed to announce a pay hike for them this year. Nevertheless, there is an understanding between the government and the public servants that salaries cannot be increased this year given the war situation. It was an understanding. We did not ensure a pay hike even for soldiers,” he said.

However, he said the government took a decision to go for an upward revision of salary scales of these workers from November this year.

“We have given them enough. We have paid their bonuses and other allowances. So, there is no valid reason for them to resort to trade union action. We have agreed to increase their basic salaries by 22 percent. Simultaneously, their overtime rates will also be increased. Eventually, they might get their monthly pay increased by at least by 50 percent. So, we see this action as a politically motivated attempt to inconvenience and topple the government,” he said.

As a result, he said the government had worked out alternative arrangements to distribute fuel today despite the work to rule campaign.

“This is a conspiracy. Most rich people in Colombo support the UNP. So, they buy more and more fuel from filling stations to create an artificial shortage of fuel throughout the country. We saw some people coming with bottles to purchase fuel. Has it ever happened in this country?” he asked.

Ministry Secretary M.M.C. Ferdinando said workers demand that their salary increases be backdated from January this year, but it could not be accepted.

“These employees had reached an understanding to forgo their salary increases from January to October earlier given the high defence budget for the war effort. Now, they are demanding it,” he said.

Nevertheless, Petroleum Common Service Union Spokesman D.J. Rajakaruna said all members of his union would participate in this trade union action demanding a salary increase effective from January 2009.

The All Ceylon General Port Employees Union said the work to rule campaign would have dire consequences on the daily economic activities in the country. Union Secretary Ranjan Jayalal said the government would be compelled to pay surcharges since ships could not be released on time due to the proposed trade union action. The UNP-affiliated Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya said it would also join this action demanding pay hikes for the employees.

Water Supply Board Union Representative Gihan Liyanarachchi said workers would disturb the industrial peace at vital institutions during this period. However, he said there would be a mild approach at the Water Supply Board because it is an essential service for the people.

Ports Authority Union Representative Udeni Kalutanthri said though the JVP and the UNP engaged in hostile politics, they had now come together against this government.

© Daily Mirror

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by 2008

Back to TOP