Immigration officers threaten work-to-rule repeat if demands unresolved.

Immigration officers warned they are prepared to resume their work-to-rule campaign next week, if the Government fails to follow through on its guarantee to address their grievances by Tuesday (22).

Sri Lanka Immigration & Emigration Officers’ Association (SLIEOA) President Aruna Kanugala told the Sunday Times, they called off their work-to-rule campaign on Friday (18), following talks with the subject Minister of Internal Affairs & Wayamba Development S.B. Nawinne. “The Minister promised to present a proposal to Cabinet on Tuesday, regarding our demands, and get it approved. We temporarily called off our trade union action based on this guarantee,” Mr Kanugala explained.

The 3 key demands made by the SLIEOA are the establishment of a Service Minute for the Immigration & Emigration Service, reinstatement of the Departmental Prosecution Unit and to attach Immigration & Emigration officers to Missions abroad.

Pointing out that the SLIEOA has been silently pushing authorities on these issues for 20 years, the SLIEOA President said they had finally been shoved into serious trade union action, as the demands had been repeatedly ignored. He pointed out that the SLIEOA also gave time to a 5-member committee appointed by the Prime Minister in January, to resolve their service issues, but to no avail. “We are now prepared to continue with our work-to-rule campaign next week, should the Government go back on its word to finally resolve these issues,” he insisted.

The SLIEOA launched a work-to-rule campaign midnight Thursday, causing travel chaos at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), with long delays experienced at the airport’s Departure Terminal. State carrier SriLankan Airlines was forced to urge all departing passengers to arrive at the BIA at least 3 hours prior to departure time, in order to minimise delays.

While the Government was serious on granting the demands of the Immigration officers, delays at various Government Depts which must coordinate on the issues, was why a solution was not found, Minister Nawinne said. “We can minimise these delays once we obtain approval from Cabinet. I’m not saying these demands can be granted overnight, but once it becomes official Government policy, things will move a lot more smoothly,” he opined.

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