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Friday, July 22, 2011

Academics suspend TU action

Dailymirror 22/07/2011

By Lakna Paranamanna

The university academics yesterday decided to suspend their trade union action which had crippled the university education sector for over two months, following their acceptance of an interim solution proposed by the government. 

Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) spokesman Dr. Mahim Mendis speaking to Daily Mirror yesterday said that they had decided to suspend their trade union action as the government had agreed to their three demands on Tuesday, following the interim proposals of the government.

FUTA, in a letter to President Rajapaksa on Wednesday, had said that the academics were not satisfied with the outcome of the discussions held between FUTA members and government officials on Monday, and asserted that they would continue their trade union action until their demands were met.

The first demand was the removal of the conditions imposed on components of the academics' salaries – particularly the conditions imposed on the Research and Development Allowance. They demanded that the salary revisions implemented through the interim proposals exclude the R&D allowance.

The second demand was that a committee comprising government and FUTA officials be appointed to work together to bring about a final, effective solution to the academics’ salary anomalies that went beyond the interim proposals. The third demand was the withdrawal of circular No: 956 issued by the University Grants Commission on May 3 that made it compulsory for academics to tender three months notice prior to resignation from voluntary administrative positions.

Following the acceptance of these demands by the government, FUTA decided yesterday to suspend their trade union action. “Hence the academics will resume duties in their voluntary administrative positions in the 15 national universities; the academic activities in the universities will be resumed and continued as usual, and we will not boycott the 2011 G.C.E. A/L evaluation supervision process,” said Dr. Mendis.

“We believe that the government wasted too much time unnecessarily in arriving at an agreement to address the grievances of the university academics. Although we were disillusioned by the manner in which the government responded to our demands initially, we decided to be flexible for the sake of the university students who are dependent on us for empowerment,” he added.