Written by Zulfick Farzan
28 Jul, 2021 | 7:18 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); Thousands of Teachers and Principals protested across many cities in Sri Lanka demanding the government take necessary measures to solve the issues that have gone unsolved for many years.
These protest marches took place in the Kuliyapitiya, Mahiyanganaya, Ratnapura, Hanwella, Galle, Eheliyagoda, and Mahawa towns on Wednesday (28).
‘We do not want our demands to be solved on paper. The government needs to act on it,’ said one teacher who added that the perennial salary anomaly issue must be solved immediately.
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.
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.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday (27) 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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