‘FUTA demands already met’
As the academics of the Federation of University Teachers’
Associations (FUTA) continue their strike to coerce the government to
get their remuneration demands, a current of adverse public opinion is
manifesting around them, Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayake told
the Daily News.
Meanwhile, FUTA secretary Terrence Madujith said they are eagerly
waiting to meet Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga to discuss
Minister Dissanayake said: “As I understand, the leaders of this
strike are now planning to extend it to universities throughout the
“They will find reasons to paralyze the system of university
education rather than reasons to activate it,” the minister said.
Asked what the ministry will do about demands by striking university
teachers of FUTA, Minister Dissanayake said “nothing” and added: “We
have already met their demand for a salary hike with a generous
“In fact we have given them an increment which no other government
has ever given them or would consider giving in a year,” he said. “We
have already given an 83 percent salary increase for Senior Professors.
We have given a salary increase of 36 and 39 per cent to university
junior and senior lecturers,”he explained.
“Yet they are persistent on more without even going back to work
while students have been rendered helpless,” he said.
“The strike started at the Peradeniya University with the support of
UNP political groups. It is also very clear that the JVP politbureau
members are hell-bent on carrying this strike forward at any cost.
“The members of a frontline party are also also involved in
engineering the strike,” Minister Dissanayake said.
“It appears that JVP politbureau member Ven. Dambara Amila Thera has
gone to the Wayamba University to expand the strike,” he said.
Dissanayake said on the demands made by FUTA, “Some of them are
amusing and some do not make any sense at all.”
“They have asked us to withdraw 100 scholarships, which we had
started giving to foreign students from last year to study in Sri Lankan
universities. This being so, they have asked us to bear the costs of
their children’s education. Of the children of a university teacher’s
family, educational expenditure of two children who may go to a private
or a public school, had to be borne by the government ,” he said.
“There is no sense in their demand for a six per cent GDP for
education sector. Anyway with all the other facilities given to the
education sector it comes to somewhere near six per cent,” he said.
“Only Ethiopia and Tanzania make a contribution of the sort to
education, but these countries have low levels of literacy and education
in general , unlike Sri Lanka,” he said.
Asked when Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga will meet
FUTA leaders to discuss their demands, Dissanayake said, “ it is very
unlikely to happen after what they did at the last meeting where FUTA
announced just after that meeting, that the government was trying to
mislead them by having meetings and committees.”