Prez agrees to grant strikers’ demands Railway strike called off
Posted on August 12th, 2018

By Rathindra Kuruwita Courtesy The Island

The tug of war between the UNP and the SLFP once again came to the fore yesterday with President Maithripala Sirisena inviting the striking railway unions to talks, whose success led to the end of the railway strike, despite Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s declaration that he would not negotiate with the strikers until they abandoned their industrial action.

The railway trade union representatives met President Maithripala Sirisena at his residence in Polonnaruwa.

The President called the unions for a discussion though Minister Samaraweera insisted that a salary hike to railway would lead to salary anomalies across the state sector.

A senior official from the Ministry of Transport said that Minister of Transport, Nimal Siripala de Silva was not involved in the discussions between the President and the unions.

Stationmasters, engine drivers, railway controllers and railway supervisor managers launched their strike, on August 8, calling upon the government to accede to their demand for a salary increase. They also want their salaries to be on par with the M2 Salary Grade in the public service.

Lal Ariyaratne, Chairman of the Railway Controllers’ Association said they decided to suspend the strike after President Sirisena had instructed his officials to implement the Cabinet paper to increase the salaries of railway employees; it had been submitted taking in to consideration the recommendations of the Sub Committee headed by Minister Sarath Amunugama, appointed to inquire into the issues faced by the railway employees.

Ariyaratne said that due to the assurances of the President, they have suspended the strike and train service would be restored from yesterday.

On average, 374 trains carry around 600,000 passengers daily. Commenting on the issue, Minister Amunugama told media that public administration circular 06/2006 had created a series of anomalies in the state service. It had placed a number of positions on the same salary scale.

Repeated attempts made by us to contact Minister Samaraweera failed.

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