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Friday, July 15, 2011

University crisis likely to end

Daily Mirror 15/07/2011

Wednesday’s talks between govt. and lecturers successful

By Kelum Bandara

Normal academic activities in the university system are likely resume this week with Wednesday’s talks between university lecturers and the government ending on a positive note, officials said yesterday.
Higher Education Ministry Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne told the Daily Mirror that he, along with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Treasury Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundare had met representatives of the Federation of University Teachers (FUTA) on Wednesday.

Dr. Navaratne said the President was keen to end this problem which had crippled the entire university system. 

 “We are confident and optimistic that the problem will be resolved within the next few days. The President agreed to rectify the salary anomalies of university teachers,” he said.

University teachers resigned from all administrative work on May 8, 2011 demanding an upward revision of their salary scales. They demanded that the minimum monthly salary of a senior professor be increased to Rs. 120,000, and that of a junior lecturer to Rs. 67,000.

FUTA Chairman Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri also said the meeting ended on a positive note on Wednesday, but stressed on the need for the government to come up with ‘definite information’ on its response to the demands put forward by the university teachers.

Dr. Devasiri said the President agreed to pay Rs. 115,000 for a senior professor instead of Rs.120,000 which was  initially demanded.

“We will consider it only if our additional demands are met with positive responses. Today, we are entitled to duty free vehicle permits only after the completion of 12 years in service whereas, for other categories of public sector employees, it is only six years.   We see it as a discrimination. We too want such facilities after six years. Also, there should be a special arrangement to admit the children of university teachers to Grade I classes at popular schools,” he said.

He also said that some circulars issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) should be repealed immediately.  “If these additional demands dealt with positively, we will reconsider the offer for a monthly salary of Rs.115, 000 for a senior professor. We also need clarity and more information on the salary scales of other categories of university teachers such as lecturers and senior lecturers,” he said.