Letters to the Editor | Sunday Observer

Letters to the Editor

 Countering strikes

Strikes are of different kinds, such as, token strike, politically motivated strike, religiously provoked strike, community aimed strike, and the genuine strike. In addition, there is the sudden wild strike, e.g. the private bus strike, which should be condemned by all.

A genuine strike should have reasonable demands and should be organised only in the event that all discussions fail. It should be arranged in a manner that would not push the people into difficulties.

Talking about private bus strikes, e.g. when a bus crew is slapped by a passenger for the former’s aggressive behaviour or a policeman charges the driver for reckless driving, or for any such trivial reason a most despicable strike is promptly organised. In this event the inconvenience and hardship caused to the people cannot be expressed in black and white.

I suggest the following remedy to counter such deplorable situations:

1.Let them launch a strike and seek the support of other bus crew too if necessary.

2.If the strike is not reasonable the Government should not be concerned.

3.The Government should get all state buses to run, especially concentrating on the required areas.

4.One hour grace period should be given to State employees, both ways, arrival and departure from work place. The private sector should be requested to follow suit.

5.If these are carried out properly, they will drop their strike and return to work, due to the financial commitments of their families.

We have seen how overloaded buses stop just to pick up a passenger, in order to get an additional 10 or 15 rupees.

When such is the greed for money how could they keep off from work? They would also lose their income through ‘playing out’ the bus owners of their exact earnings.

The late Dr. N.M. Perera, while he was a union leader, forwarded 21 demands to the then UNP Government and staged several unsuccessful strikes.

Among the 21 demands many appeared to be unreasonable which were matters relating to salaries.

The government therefore, did not respond to their demands. However, when the United Left Front (ULF) Government was formed in the 1970s the union leader (NM) became the Minister of Finance thereby getting a golden opportunity to handle one of the powerful Ministries.

The anticipation of the working class one again boomed, and hope sprang that their leader turned Minister would heal their wounds.

But what happened was the opposite. He not only refused the demands but also ordered the ‘kicking out of the strikers from their workplaces’. Even the Bank employees, who came under his portfolio, were dismissed, and later taken as fresh recruits. This lesson was picked up by President JR Jayawardena which he followed on the ‘July strikers’.

Lastly, the recent railway strike has given a nasty experience to the commuters.

The Government should train either locally or abroad, members of the security forces to drive trains, handle the control room and other relevant sections to counter sudden inhuman strikes.

Nazly Cassim
Colombo 13


Salaries and Cadre Commission for all in State Services

It is reported that a special Salaries and Cadre Commission has been gazetted ‘to study the existing salary structure of the Public Service’. This is welcome.

However, there is a much bigger issue! It is our thinking that our country’s Constitution must establish and have such a permanent independent commission, like some of the other prevailing constitutional commissions, to look into and determine the salaries of all those employed by the State and who are paid by the State – from whatever account of fund – whether President, Parliamentarian, Judge, Auditor, Banker or other public servant.

It is ridiculous, illogical, unreasonable, immoral and against the grain that parliamentarians could and do determine and decide their own salaries and allowances – this that and the other, houses, cars, fuel and what else, should be. Past practices and the prevailing one has gone from bad to worse and is now reprehensible. Such a practice is woefully unhealthy, undesirable and should be rejected, certainly in the Sri Lankan context, and must change, change to a more reasonable and acceptable system decided upon by an uninvolved, independent body, with no political or other influence.

We hope and look forward to the country, our citizens and all the media taking up the matter and demanding such change. You can be sure most, if not all, of the current politicians who derive enormous, unimaginable personal benefits from the current system will vehemently oppose such a change!

Over to you Sri Lankans one and all to demand, blast out and ensure such change, keeping in mind that the people are supreme.

A concerned citizen

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