Railway unions defy essential services order and continue strike

Railway unions defy essential services order and continue strike

Written by Staff Writer

28 Jun, 2019 | 8:22 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st): Railways General Manager Dilantha Fernando, filed a complaint at the Fort police station as the railway trade unions continued their strike action defying the essential services gazette notification.

The General Manager requested for action to be taken against the train drivers, operators and station masters under the essential services act under the emergency regulations, Railway services were classified as an essential service yesterday (June 27).

However, trade unions launched their token strike action at midnight. Only seven office trains were operated this morning. According to the railway’s timetable, there are 48 train rounds on the schedule for a weekday morning. The general public faced many difficulties due to the train strike and their routine activities were largely hampered.

Amidst all these events, the General Secretary of the train drivers union Indika Dodangoda firmly said that they will stage their strike from Thursday midnight to midnight on Friday every week until their demands are met. The strike was launched over salary anomalies.

Speaking on the strike Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga said that if all their demands were fulfilled that it will be an issue to 1.5 million state employees of the country. He further said that they had requested for a month or two to solve these issues in a manner that would not affect the other employees. The Minister further said that any trade union has the liberty to demand solutions for their problems but not in a manner that would inconvenience the general public. He added that the main motive of categorizing the service as an essential service was not to threaten or eradicate the employees.

In order to ensure that train operations will continue without further disruption, interviews were also conducted in Narahenpita today (June 28) to recruit retired engine drivers, control engineers, and railway inspectors.

Also commenting on the ongoing situation the Central Province governor PC Maithri Gunaratne stated that according to his view he prefers if 40% of the employee base in the railway, the SLTB, health, water and power be army personnel and that it should also be followed by those in the medical sector. He further said that it is the general public that is inconvenienced by such actions since it is the low-income earners travelling by train. He reiterated that if the railway employees are finding it difficult to carry out their service that army personnel should be deployed for the purpose.

When a request was made for more time to solve this issue, and when train services have been gazetted as an essential service and when the general public is severely inconvenienced due to the prevailing situation, is the ongoing strike fair?

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