Hidden political hand behind sudden strikes | Daily News

Hidden political hand behind sudden strikes

“We are ready to talk if they are willing to stop strike” - Minister:

Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera struck a defiant tone yesterday saying that there was a political hand in the sudden strike by railway workers adding that this government would not be bullied into adhoc salary revisions.

“Next Tuesday, Cabinet is to approve a proposal for the setting up of a commission which would look into the salary anomalies of the state sector while their report will be the basis upon which any revisions would be made,” he said. “We cannot increase the salaries of only railway engine drivers as it would cause a huge anomaly within the other sectors of the government service.”

The Minister refused to hold talks with the strikers until they gave up the protest adding that the sudden strike was uncalled for and unfair. He alleged that there was a hidden political hand at work and that the government would do everything at its disposal to alleviate the difficulties faced by commuters and students sitting for their Advanced Level examinations. “During the last few days alone, we have had the unstinted support of the Army who ran additional buses, police and bus operators who offered their services at no cost,” he said.

“We have allowed bus operators without permits to operate and invite them to register with the National Transport Commission for a special service until the situation returns to normalcy,” Minister Samaraweera said.

The Minister added that once bus operators (even those without permits) have registered with the NTC, they would be given the opportunity to operate in the mornings and evenings and would be compensated for by the Treasury. Commuters are permitted to use their season tickets when travelling on SLTB buses. “I urge the strikes to stop their protest and come for a discussion with the authorities. Their issues can only be resolved through discussions and we are prepared to talk if they are willing to stop their strike.” he said.

The Minister elaborating further added that the existing basic salary of an engine driver was Rs.44,600. However, their take home salary inclusive of allowances amount to nearly Rs.200 000.

However, they have been agitating for an increase in their basic salary up to Rs.56,205.

Minister Samarweera added that an increase of the basic salary scale would cause a huge anomaly in the salaries of other state sector employees across the board. He assured that the issue would be sorted within the next two to three months.

 

 

 

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