Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) employees continued their fast for the fifth consecutive day yesterday. This is against irregular increments granted to CEB engineers and that the cutting back of their own overtime payments and bonuses.
Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal alleged that the former Mahinda Rajapaksa Government bribed the engineers in November 2014 with an increment and assured them that this would be added to their basic salary after the January 8, 2015 elections.
“An agreement was thus signed between the engineers and the previous regime and the engineers received a salary increment for three years.The agreement further stated that a 30 percent salary increment will be added to the basic salary by December 2014.
“But, the tables started to turn with defeat of Rajapaksa in January 2015 and the Engineers Union which was in control issued a circular stating that all salary increments including the illegal ones should come into effect by January 2015,”Jayalal said.
He added that when Champika Ranawaka was appointed as the Power and Energy Minister during the 100 day government in 2015, protests were held at the National Salaries and Cadre Commission, Ministry of Finance and Planning and the Treasury. Cabinet thereafter had released a statement that they had given no approval for the salary increase and thus it was illegal. “Then we complained to the CID, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption. They told us to wait until they provided a solution. Then after the election, with the appointment of Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as the Power and Energy, we were told to wait a year but no solutions have been provided to us so far,” Jayalal said.
In the wake of these illegal increments the salary ration has become 1:9 between an average worker and engineer, which was earlier 1:6.
“When the salary increments were presented for Cabinet approval, Jayalal explained that they opposed it and as a result alleged that their overtime payments, bonuses and even donations during disasters were cut.
The Unions have threatened to continue their strike for another two days. “The workers are under pressure because their incomes have been cut down. We want our OT payments and bonuses to be restored. It is not fair for us to ask for an illegal increment like the engineers. This is why we decided to go on strike,” Jayalal said.