Laid of employees of WPRDA protest

Authorities say no funds to reemploy them

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Hundreds of employees of the Western Province Road Development Authority (WPRDA) demonstrated opposite the Fort Railway Station yesterday against sacking more than 800 workers who had worked for four years.

General Secretary of the Road Development Employees’ Union (RDEU) P. N. D. K. Bandaranayake told The Island that they would continue the protest and were ready to launch a strike if the WPRDA did not reinstate those employees.

More than 800 technical officers, technical assistants, transport assistants, drivers, watchers and labourers worked for the authority from 2011 under the approval of the General Manager of the WPRDA, but their services had been suspended from February 28, 2015, he said.

Bandaranayake said that WPRADA had deployed those employees in other areas of the country too during the last four years.

"All of them completed more than 180 days, the minimum needed to be made permanent in their employment, but the WPRDA General Manager informed them that their service was stopped from Feb. 28," the trade unionist said adding that the authority did not specify the clear reason to stop those employees’ services.

Bandaranayake said those employees had pleaded for reinstatement in service, but the WPRDA had not acted on their plea.

This is the first protest to win the demand and they would go for the second stage with other employees of the WPRDA if the authority did not give favourable response, he said.

Road Development Minister of the Western Province, Upali Kodikara was not available for comment as he was attending the Provincial Council meeting yesterday.

When contacted for comment, General Manager of the WPRDA, R. M. S. Bandaranayake said that they stopped the service of around 200 employees and not 800 workers, as the projects were over.

"We recruited around 200 employees on contract basis for some project carried out by the WPRDA in and outside the Western Province," Bandaranayake said adding of them some projects were over and some had to be put off due to lack of funds.

He said that they had to stop their service as there were no funds to pay their salaries without projects.

If the government allocated funds to implement remaining projects, the WPRDA could reinstate them on service contract basis again, Bandaranayake said.

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