Written by Staff Writer
27 Jun, 2019 | 10:07 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Railway trade unions announced another one-day strike starting at midnight today (June 27). The unions stated that they will stage a one-day strike from 12 midnight on Thursday every week until their demands are met.
Railway trade unions launched the strike action over the failure to implement the cabinet paper that was approved to remove the salary anomalies of railway employees.
The unions launched a one-day token strike at midnight on the 20th of this month over the same demands. The loss caused to the country as a result of the strike action was Rs. 19 million.
Trade unions representing the Railway drivers, Regulators, Operators, Station masters, and Railway oversight managers joined the strike.
Chairman of the Railway Operators’ Union Lal Ariyaratne expressed their regret if the general public is inconvenienced due to the strike. He added that from 2015 they were given false promises and a cabinet paper that was approved has still not been implemented.
Ariyaratne went onto note that if the government is unable to solve these issues they will continue their trade union action.
Against this backdrop, a gazette notification was issued this evening making railway services an essential service. It was signed by President’s Counsel Udaya R. Seneviratne.
The Gazette was issued considering the fact that any service provided by a state corporation, department, provincial council, co-operative society or outlet is essential for the daily lives of the general public.
Thereby all services at the Railway Department including railway travel, railway and road maintenance, and issuing of tickets have been named as essential services.
Speaking to News 1st State Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Ashok Abeysinghe said currently emergency regulations are in force island wide and a gazette was issued under emergency regulations naming this an essential service.
He said, therefore, there is a law that applies if those engaged in essential services staged a strike. He added that all drivers working on contract basis have been called in, therefore, they will be able to continue to provide railway services even if they continue the strike action.
A cabinet paper has already been approved on solving the issues of the railway employees and the Ministry of Finance must take a decision on removing the salary anomalies of these employees.
The Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said if the government agrees to everything they say there will be an even bigger problem of salary anomalies of workers in other fields. He added that if there are no trains they will deploy more buses.
“This is unfair. The people are the ones who suffer in the end.”
“If this is being done against the government, we ask them not to make the people suffer because they want to do something against the government.”
“Either their demands must be met, or they must be sacked and new people must be recruited. The other thing is they receive massive salaries. There is no justice.”
“We have to travel in buses, after having paid for the season ticket.”
“The government has a responsibility. If this government cannot fulfil their responsibilities they must resign and go home.”
However, it should be noted that the main office train was in operation at the Fort Railway station this evening.
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