The railway strike will continue despite talks with the Minister of Education in relation to facilitating students who will be facing the GCE Ordinary Level Examination today, the Secretary of the Railway Locomotive Engine Drivers’ Union, Indika Dodangoda, said.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, he said that the Union had spoken to the Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and had explained that unless the grievances of the railway operators were addressed, the strike will continue indefinitely.
He went on to state that the Minister had promised to convey their grievances to the Prime Minister, however, Kariyawasam has not yet communicated the Prime Minister’s response to them.
“We requested him to work towards alleviating our grievances. We can call off our strike at anytime,” he said. Commenting on the Presidential Gazette which made railways an essential service, he said, “The gazette is not relevant to us. We will continue the strike.”
Speaking to Ceylon Today last Thursday (7) he added that the meeting they had with the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation was not fruitful, as the Secretary did not agree to the proposals made by the union. Since then, the strike had continued for four days.
“We are experiencing issues with regard to recruiting Locomotive Engine Operative Assistants. They have also imposed elements that are contrary to the railway safety rules. There are also elements that contradict public administration circulars. We have made repeated requests to the relevant authorities to make amendments and address these issues. However, they have not taken any action in this regard. The Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation does not agree with us,” he said.
GMOA backs railway strikers Criticizes Government
The fact that neither the President nor the Prime Minister gave an audience to the Railway unions, prior to declaring railway services as an essential service, via a Gazette notification, is unacceptable, said……Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Assistant Secretary of Haritha Aluthge.
Speaking to Ceylon Today he noted that the Government tends to suppress union activities by declaring the service they render as essential services. Commenting on the impact of continued strikes on GCE Ordinary level students, who will be sitting for their examination today, he said; “That is a worrying factor. This also has to be addressed. As a general committee we decided that all these aspects should be considered by the Government. It is up to the Government to conduct negotiations. If the negotiations with the President’s Secretary fails, then either the President or the Prime Minister should address the issue.”
However, reports indicate that the railway department has suffered a loss of more than Rs 50 million, as revealed by the financial unit of the department, due to the strike that ran from last Thursday to yesterday. Generally, trains make about 350 journeys per day, but this has now reduced to 20 to 25.