Special communique issued by minister:
Striking Dons asked to resume duties on July 30
Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayake in a special communique
requested striking academics of universities to return to their duties
from July 30 for the sake of students and their future.
Minister Dissanayake in the communique said: “The strike carried out
by the academics of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations
(FUTA) has adversely affected students’ education in universities and it
could delay the process of university enrollment of new students.
“Hence, all professors and lecturers are requested to report to work
from Monday for the restoration of university education, considering the
future of the students, instead of compromising the latter’s future, by
being victims of a few who try to gain petty political advantage by
inducing such actions.”
Meanwhile, FUTA secretary Terrance Madujith on being informed of the
government’s communique asking them to return to their duties said
yesterday they were willing to end the strike and would discuss it with
the FUTA Executive Committee.
“Forget about our demand for the salary increase, there are other
demands, especially the demand of contributing 6 per cent of the GDP to
develop education.We expect the Higher Education Ministry to take some
action towards this and show commitment,” he said. “We do not want them
to increase the contribution from the current 1.83 per cent to 6 percent
all of a sudden. There should be some action,”he explained.
“FUTA will return to work no sooner it is able to come to an
agreement with any higher official about its demands,” he said. Higher
Education Ministry Secretary Dr Sunil Jayantha Nawaratna on being
contacted by the Daily News yesterday said, “they have done their very
best to address the issues concerned, and went as far as to get a high
powered Presidential Commission to look into them,” he said.
“FUTA has rejected this after a meeting with the Secretary to the
President Lalith Weerathunga,” he said. “To make a contribution of six
percent of the GDP to develop education, we are not the Finance
Ministry. This is not something that Higher Education Ministry can do by
itself. Such action takes time,” he explained. “Why cannot they report
back to work for sake of the students, if it is their welfare they seek,
and continue their negotiations with the government while teaching the
students. After all they are academics. The students are affected by
their strike,” he said. Asked what the government would do in case they
do not return to work, Dr Nawaratna said, “ I believe they have no
reason to act in such a way to create a situation which causes
universities to collapse, in the best interest of the students who have
placed their faith and respect in them.” The FUTA strike has already
crippled university education in the country for 24 days.