SL government says no salary increase; trade unions prepare for strike

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 August 2009, 16:24 GMT]
The Government of Sri Lanka said Tuesday that it would immediately suspend salary increase to State sector and semi-government workers. “The decision is taken due to massive war expenditure and difficulties caused largely by global economic crisis,” Power and Energy Minister, Mr. John Seneviratne, disclosed the government decision at a hurriedly summoned press conference.

The Cabinet has decided to stop salary increments for the entire state sector until 2010. State sector trade unions, including Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya, a trade union affiliated to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), one time ally of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government, now threatening trade union action over the delay in pay hike, had been made aware of the situation, he said.

The Minister said that the government could not honour an agreement with Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions to increase workers salaries once in three years this year.

CEB workers had received their last salary increase in January 2006 and their next increase had been due last January but the government could not meet the commitment due to economic difficulties.

The minister emphasized that the government would not give in to political pressure.

Meanwhile, JVP union and about seven or eight other small unions have threatened to disrupt services of the CEB on Friday (August 28).

In reply to a question whether the government could maintain services if workers went ahead with their planned action, the minister expressed confidence and said the government was ready to face any eventuality.

All Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union and Water Supply and Drainage Employees Union yesterday said that they fully backed Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya’s struggle to force the government to increase salaries of CEB workers.

Upali Ratnaike, General Secretary of Water Supply and Drainage Employees Union, warned that unless they could resolve their problems through negotiations they would have no option other than resorting to trade union action.

Gamini Ratnasiri of All Ceylon Bank Employees Union told media that workers of State Banks, Ports, CPC, CEB and Water Supply and Drainage Board received salary increments once in three years. Although they should have received salary increments early this year the government had so far failed to keep its promise. He said that so far State banks, too, had failed to finalize salary increments due to bank workers.

He warned that they would not hesitate to take trade union action if they failed to win their legitimate demands through negotiations.


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