Retired engine drivers were asked to report to the Railway Headquarters yesterday and leave of railway workers was cancelled under emergency regulations to ease the inconvenience caused to thousands of commuters as the strike begun by the Locomotive Engine Drivers Association (LEDA) is set to continue today.
The LEDA launched a countrywide strike yesterday afternoon after talks with the Transport Ministry demanding correction of salary anomalies and asking for recognition of higher entry qualification for their grade ended in a stale mate. LEDA members said they had presented the demands to Minister Felix Perera several months ago and had received a positive response. However, Railway Authorities had delayed its implementation.
?We presented the officials with the supplementary report of our demands but they only complicated matters and did not rectify the anomalies,? LEDA Secretary K. A. W Konthasingha said.
Ministry Secretary K. Saputantry said they had not come to terms with the LEDA on the issue of increasing the entry qualification to a diploma. ?The basic qualification for all drivers is O/Level with English which the association wants to change to the National Diploma in Technology,? Mr Saputantry said. ?We told them that their demands would be sent to the National Council for Administration and they would receive an answer within a month. They launched the strike regardless of this.?
He said the Ministry was taking a tough stand on the strike. ?LEDA has around 300 members while the unions working with us have around 100,? he said adding that they had run about 16 trains yesterday evening and were hoping to run more today.