Postal strike enters Day 14 | Sunday Observer

Postal strike enters Day 14

Sri Lanka’s postal service will continue to remain at a standstill with postal workers vowing to continue with the ongoing strike action until their demands are met.

As the strike enters Day 14, Convenor of the Joint Postal Trade Union Front, Chinthaka Bandara says the

authorities have failed to address

their grievances by not giving any favourable solutions to their issues which has now resulted in a complete breakdown of the department’s functions.

The strike action by the Joint Postal Trade Unions Front with the support of 24 other postal trade unions which commenced on June 10 is based on two main demands.

The main issue of contention is the 6/2016 circular issued in 2006. Referring to the circular Bandara says detrimental policies were implemented through it which had negative effects on the staff as well as the department.

Bandara says that as a result recruitment to the department is at a standstill along with promotions and salary increments for the staff. Therefore, they are requesting the new proposed scheme of recruitment drafted by the Department and the unions jointly is approved by the cabinet. “We have been continuously agitating to get this approved but to no avail,” Bandara said.

He says while the cabinet on several times has approved part of their demands they keep imposing conditions that make it impossible for the approved demands to be executed.

With over 27,000 employees of the Department of Posts embarking on the strike over 600 post offices and 3,000 sub-post offices remain closed.

Over 250,00 letters and parcels continue to languish in the Central Mail Exchange in Colombo alone while over 4000 sacks of airmail have piled up at the airport.

Pensions of senior citizens too have been hampered. Government offices have become crippled, and applications for schools, examinations services too have become affected.

The Court system is also facing issues the Bar Association said. “Public life has become affected and the authorities must take the responsibility” Bandara alleged.

However, after being questioned on the matter in parliament this week, Ministry of Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Abdul Haleem claimed the current issues faced by the postal workers are a result of decisions taken by the previous government.

Confirming that the 6/2006 circular had caused serious issues within the postal service however the Minister claimed that he had agreed to introduce a new service statute specific to the Postal Department to mitigate the issues caused by the circular while also agreeing to strike off the Grade III from the postal service. However, unions claim no such solutions have been given yet. Minister Haleem went on to label the ongoing strike as politically motivated and an attempt to topple the government. “They have no other reason to strike as solutions have been provided,” he said.

The Minister has said if needed the support of the Police will be sought to distribute letters and parcels. Despite repeated requests by the Minister and Postmaster General Rohana Abeyratne asking the Unions to return to work, they have refused to do so claiming they have been tricked by false promises since 2006.