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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

University teachers take to the streets today

The Island 21/06/2011

Protest against Govt. failure to grant pay hike

Dr. Nirmal

by Dasun Edirisinghe

University teachers will take to the streets, in Colombo today, protesting against the government’s delay to provide solutions to their demand for a pay hike.

Members of the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) will commence their protest march from the Colombo University and walk to the Public Library at Independence Square Avenue.

Addressing a press conference in Colombo yesterday, FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, said that at the end of the protest march, they would hold a public lecture at the Public Library Auditorium to increase awareness among people on the issue of salaries of university teachers and why they demand an increase.

The protest march is scheduled to begin at 2.00 p.m from the the Science Faculty of the Colombo University, he said.

"We held protest marches and public awareness lectures in Kandy and Matara recently," Dr. Devasiri said adding this would be the third one.

According to him, they handed over a proposal to the Higher Education Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne, as requested by him, which contained a four-step solution to their problem. However, no steps had yet been taken to solve the problem.

He said their main demand was to implement the salary proposal prepared by a committee appointed by the University Grants Commission in 2008.

University teachers launched their agitation with a one-day token strike on March 15 and resigned from by voluntarily posts on May 09, in protest against the government’s failure to increase their salaries. They discussed the problem with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 25, but it ended with no solution in sight.

"Our trade union action is very successful and the day to day activities in universities have been disrupted by it," Dr. Devasiri said adding that the trade union action would not be withdrawn unless their main demand is met.

Answering a query, he said that they decided to boycott A/L answer script evaluation and several teacher trade unions stated they would not mark the answer script without the supervision of university teachers.

Addressing the media, FUTA Vice President Ven. Dambara Amila thera said that due to the low salary system in the university sector, at present, it had become difficult to recruit university teachers.

He said that most of capable teachers had gone abroad for good.