A SECTION of the teachers who were assigned paper marking work of the
recently concluded Advanced Level examination, have kept away from that
work causing a delay in the release of examination results, the
re-opening of some schools for the third term and anxiety among the
students awaiting the exam results in planning their future higher
studies or vocational training.
The reason for this boycott is said to be the delay in correcting a
salary anomaly affecting them which is reportedly receiving the
attention of the authorities concerned.
Salary anomalies cannot be rectified in a hurry, however much the
trade unions would like to have them expedited. It is a matter to be
considered in all its perspectives, paradigms and implications by a
competent salary review committee.
Otherwise any salary adjustments allowed by way of relief would lead
to further implications and anomalies. The Cabinet of Ministers may not
have the time nor the competence, to undertake such an exhaustive study
on these demands.
There is always more than that meets the eye in this type of demand
which is probably why the trade unions are trying to hustle the
authorities pressing for a decision by a given date, even launching
strikes at crucial times like the present instance.
Trade unions are aware that any salary increases given are noramly
not withdrawn, even if they were found later to be unreasonable or not
feasible. At least there are no precedents of such roll-backs.
The purported salary dispute of the striking teachers in the present
instance, is with the Department of Education, and the Commissioner of
Examinations has nothing to do with it.
Those teachers who were assigned paper marking work were strictly
speaking on a sort of contract with the Commissioner who has agreed to
pay them a certain rate on satisfactory completion of the assignment.
That certainly must have been the intention behind those letters of
assignment issued to them.
As such, the Commissioner must apart from black-listing those who
have kept away from their assigned work, also look into the possibility
of legal action against those who have kept away in contravention of
their implied agreements.
The leaders of those Trade Unions who incited those teachers to
boycott this work should also be charged jointly and severelly.
It is good news that one student has taken this matter to the Supreme
Court on the grounds of violation of his fundamental rights. This is a
good trend. The affected parties and the public must not take this type
of trade union action lying-down; people have had enough of this
Time has come to assert our rights too. I hope that some public
interest groups would take up these matters whenever any irresponsible
trade union action causes inconvenience to the public.
Whatever the outcome of this present TU action is going to be, one
can be sure that it would not be the last of the strikes by teachers. It
would be a matter of time before another boycott or strike is launched,
may be when the next public examination is around.
The Commissioner must therefore put in place alternative arrangements
to conduct public examinations without disruption and on schedule and
without totally dependent on the teachers or their pleasure.
For instance, the services of the retired teachers can be drafted for
the purposes. It would also give these the satisfaction that they are of
some service to the student population and the training and the
experience they have gained through long years of service are not wasted
in retirement. Please don’t think that a person is all decrepit, senile
and done for when he retires at sixty.
He has at least another ten years of working-life before him. This is
borne out by the fact that most Government servants who retire, easily
find employment in private institutions and NGOs etc.
The Government must also follow suit and avail of the services of its
retired employees on temporary and seasonal works like with examinations
P. G. A. HENRY -
THE Employees Trust Fund was formed on March 1, 1981 and employers
were requested to contribute three per cent of the employees’ income.
It is the duty of the business establishments to ensure that the
contributions towards the Trust Fund Department are made with proper
returns submitted on time.
It is also the duty of the Trust Fund Board to ensure that all
employers comply with this requirement. Regrettably, I understand that
there are several companies which do not pay Employees’ Provident Fund.
So we cannot expect these fraudulent companies to pay Employees’
Trust Fund also. The poor employees after rendering long time services
are left on the road without any compensation.
So, I appeal to the Trust Fund Department to monitor whether all
registered employers (partnership, public, private liability companies
etc.) maintain proper employees’ records ensuring Trust Fund
contributions are made on time.
It is also important to mention that Trust Fund settlements also have
to be made on time. There is a long delay in receiving the payments from
the Trust Fund Department. I could remember recently a Managing Director
of a reputed company, applied for Trust Fund Refund in April 2007 and
was able to receive only in August 2007.
I could imagine the plight of rural youths. I bring this to the
notice of the relevant authorities to take constructive steps to
strengthen the Trust Fund receipts and payments, so that all employees
would be benefited.
S. R. BALACHANDRAN -
The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka
THE retired Sri Lankan diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala’s timely
intervention on the above stated subject appeared in the Daily News of
August 21 is highly commendable.
Mr. Dhanapala being a professional who belongs to the same community
of diplomats in our global village obviously feels for those critique in
a language which can only be described as verbal violence/abuse.
He does not deny our right to defend our Nation. However, he is very
mindful of our historical heritage and cultural tradition.
The subject that Mr. Dhanapala is focusing on is the end result of
the Sri Lankan mind-set today created by the culture of war which has
been with us for decades.
What the international community is attempting to do in and through
their diplomats is to help us to solve our national problem.
In this context, while defending our Nation we have become
violent/abusive because of the war.
This is not conflict resolution. None of us in Sri Lanka today can
deny that we have a conflict.
This has to be solved/managed. Without participating in conflict
resolution, we are creating other conflicts with the international
community. We need to get back to the primary task of settling our
problem and not indulge in the war that we are waging with the
In this letter, I want to go beyond what is seen/heard. The official
spokespersons who are the subject of Mr. Dhanapala’s letter are all part
of the Sri Lankan community.
They are from our homes, places of education and places of worship.
If these spokespersons can use the language that they have chosen to
use, then the root cause is the state of our society. They in their
statements are revealing the state of the present culture.
So the answer is to go back to roots. See that our society as a whole
gets back to its culture of speaking the truth in love.
Perhaps in this reality what Franklin D. Roosevelt said should be
taken to heart: “More than an end to war, we want an end to the
beginning of all wars...yes, an end to this brutal inhuman and
thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between
SYDNEY KNIGHT –
PEOPLE who support noise at all odd hours in the night should be
compelled to live with it at least for a month.
No religious leader would have wanted to propagate their religion,
philosophy at the expense of harassing people. In the past when the TVs
and cassettes, radios were not common it may have been justified to have
loudspeakers but not these days.
The children cannot study. Babies cannot sleep. The sick and the
elderly cannot get rest. I know of a lady who nearly went out of her
mind due to a man playing cassettes with loudspeakers early morning and
late at night at his will.
He would start the cassette and go away leaving the people cursing.
In spite of belonging to different religions and races, they got
together and over 20 people signed a petition and thankfully the Police
put a stop to it.
Every one must be entitled to sleep peacefully between 10 p.m. and 6
a.m. That is not a lot to expect. I am not against religion, be it
Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or Christianity.
It is the excessive noise with loudspeakers at all hours. Let people
listen to their TVs, radios, or cassettes in their own homes or go to
temples, churches, mosques or kovils.
I hope the politicians will treat this as a matter of national
interest and not use it to score points.