Written by Zulfick Farzan
02 Aug, 2021 | 7:00 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); 14 Trade Unions representing teachers and principals in Sri Lanka have informed the Education Secretary that they would refrain from reporting to work as a mark of non-compliance with the circular issued calling all education staff to abide by the circular calling all public officers to report to work from Monday (02).
According to reports, teachers and principals did not report to work at a majority of the schools in the country.
However, non-academic staff was present at several schools on Monday (02).
Teachers and Principals continued their protests on Monday (02) and one of the largest protests took place in Trincomalee with hundreds in attendance.
“We will not comply with the circular calling us to report to work from today. We want a reasonable solution to our issue,” said Roshan Akmeemana, the Trincomalee District Secretary for one Trade Union.
Approximately a thousand teachers and principals gathered in Kekirawa to stage a protest.
The two-hour protest also caused a delay in vehicular movement along several main roads.
“We will not stop this struggle even if they kill more of us,” said Mahinda Jayasinghe, the Secretary of the Ceylon Teacher Services Union.
Teachers and Principals have been protesting for almost 22 days all around the country, in an unprecedented show of force.
But why are they protesting? News 1st gives you an easy reference.
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
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.
Trade Unions have rejected the appointment of the sub-committee noting that the appointment of sub-committees has been taking place for many years under every successive government, with no solution being granted to their issues.
The Prime Minister on 27th July said that a final decision on declaring the teachers’ service as a separate one within the Public Service, will be announced after Monday’s (02) cabinet meeting.
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