Lightning railway strike: commuters stranded

Thousands of commuters were left stranded yesterday, following an unannounced strike by the Railway Locomotive Engine Drivers Union who are demanding a revision of the existing recruitment policies.

Commuters left in the lurch had to find alternate ways to reach their places of work.

A special meeting between Transport and Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary G.S Withanage and trade union representatives proved futile since they could not reach a consensus yesterday. The Unions wowed to continue their strike until their demands were met.

The Union launched the train strike at midnight on December 6 urging authorities to revise existing recruitment policies for assistant train drivers.

“A case is to be filed at Magistrate’s Court to abolish this act which is used to recruit Assistant Engine Drivers at a higher salary scales, as it goes against the existing Railway recruitment procedure,” the Ministry Secretary said.

He added that government employees should respect Court orders and added that he would take measures to solve their problems quickly.He requested the union members to consider the inconvenience caused to students sitting for the upcoming GCE Ordinary Examination and appealed to them to solve their issues through dialogue.

However,he said the Sri Lanka Transport Board and National Transport Commission have deployed additional buses to minimise any inconvenience caused to students and the public.

“Train Station Masters and train Regulatory Officers too decided to join the strike from midnight yesterday (7) as the Cabinet Paper calling on an increase in salaries pertaining to their grades had not been approved, Station Masters Association Chairman Janaka Fernando said.

According to the Railway Main Control room, 150 daily journeys,including 50 office journeys were cancelled as a result of the strike.

They added that office hour trains from Matara, Galle, Chilaw and Rambukkana operated as usual despite the strike.

“We had to cancel several train journeys with the current situation.I strongly believe that we can solve matters and recommence train services as normal soon,” Sri Lanka Railways General Manager S.M.Abeywickrama told.

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