Teachers & Principals to continue strike as talks with PM end in a stalemate

Teachers & Principals to continue strike as talks with PM end in a stalemate

Teachers & Principals to continue strike as talks with PM end in a stalemate

Written by Zulfick Farzan

27 Jul, 2021 | 7:41 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st); Talks between Trade Unions representing Teachers & Principals, and the Prime Minister to reach a solution in ending the ongoing strike action on Tuesday (26) failed.

Two weeks ago, on the 12th of July, Fourteen trade unions representing teachers and principals went on strike despite calls from the government to give up their trade union action and continue with teaching activities.

The Trade Unions representing Teachers and Principals are making the following key demands :

01. Permanent solution to the perennial salary anomaly issue.

02. Immediate withdrawal of the Kotelawala Defence University Bill

03. Allocation of 6% of GDP for education

04. Permanent solutions to service issues faced by Principals and Teachers.

05. System for Extra-Curricular Activities attended by Teachers and Principals

However, as discussions with respective authorities have failed to provide permanent solutions to these issues among others, trade unions have decided to continue with their strike.

General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Union Joseph Starlin speaking to reporters after a meeting with the Prime Minister said the meeting ended with no result as they could not accept the time-wasting process followed by the government.

According to Stalin, the Prime Minister said that the Cabinet of Ministers had decided to appoint a sub-committee to probe the matter and provide reasons at the next meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

“We reject the appointment of another sub-committee as all governments only appoint these sub-committees rather than resorting to solve the issues,” he told News 1st.

He said the strike action by the Teachers and Principals will continue until Monday, the 02nd of August 2021.

In response to a question posed by News 1st, Joseph Stalin said only 40% of Sri Lanka’s student population are learning online and the remaining 60% have been deprived of their right to education.

How did the issue begin?

The Sri Lanka Teacher’s Service was established in 1994, with each grade bearing a salary similar to other sectors in the public administrative service.

Trade unions say the B.C. Perera Salaries Commission of 1997 and the Lionel Fernando and Saliya Mathew Salaries Commission of 2006 had recommended considering teaching as a separate service.

They pointed out that teachers had not received salary increments in 1997 when the salaries for other sectors had been hiked.

When the matter was referred to the court in 2008, the court had ordered teaching to be considered a separate service.

Trade unions say that the salary increments offered to teachers and principals are not equal to the salaries earned in other sectors.

They outline that the salary of a Grade-1 teacher should increase by about 29,000 rupees if the increments are to be made in line with other services in the public sector.

Under this government, education minister Professor G.L. Peiris had appointed a special committee and obtained recommendations on this matter. A cabinet-sub committee has also been appointed.

According to the Prime Minister’s office, the Prime Minister had said that a final decision on declaring the teachers’ service as a separate one within the Public Service, will be announced after next Monday’s cabinet meeting.

Joint Cabinet Spokesperson Minister (Dr). Ramesh Pathirana told reporters on Tuesday (27) that the government does not have the financial stability to immediately solve the issue, however, it would be considered in the next budget.

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