Railway unions demand withdrawal of Circular | Sunday Observer

Railway unions demand withdrawal of Circular

Following back-to-back strikes, Railway trade unions are to hold a vital discussion with Minister of Transport Arjuna Ranatunga and Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera within a week, seeking an agreement from the Ministers to eliminate Circular No 2006 (6) which has reportedly created a series of anomalies in the railway service.

The Secretary of the Railway Station Masters Union, Janaka Fernando told the Sunday Observer yesterday, July 6, that they are awaiting a positive response from the Government. “We have no intention to continue striking. We only want to resolve issues, coupled with the circular of 2006 (6),” he said.

Changes fused to the Railway service in 2006, include the amalgamation of the Railway into a joint government service, by which drastic changes of the Department of Railways took place.

“According to that circular, the salary was adjusted on paper qualifications alone. Salary hikes and promotions which were given based on work experience got cancelled,” General Manager of Railway Dilantha Fernando told the Sunday Observer.

However, later it was reported that Railway trade unions launched their trade union action last week over an incident related to rivalry between trade unions.

General Manager of Railways Dilantha Fernando had informed the Transport Ministry officials last week, that he was ready to step down from his position following instructions he received from Ministry officials to defend an employee who was found guilty of having been under the influence of alcohol during duty hours. However, later it was also reported that the employee was alleged framed as a result of a trade union rivalry in the Railway Department.

Amidst all these arguments back and forth, the loss to the Department of Railways due to initial 48-hour-strike has been calculated as Rs. 19 million. As the average daily income of the Department of Railways stands between Rs. 11-15 million, the total loss to the department by trade union action in the past couple of weeks amounts to Rs. 41 million approximately.

The Sri Lanka Railway department has an annual income of around Rs. 7.5 billion, while its operational cost alone runs up to Rs. 14 billion, twice its income.

Despite several attempts, Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, L.P. Jayampathy, Minister of Transport Arjuna Ranatunga and Deputy Minister Ashok Abeysinghe were not available for comment.