Cremations to come to a halt

TOs threaten to cripple country for three days next month


By Terrance Wanigasinghe

The country is likely to face numerous difficulties including delays in cremating the dead as the government technical officers threaten trade union action.

President of the Government Technical Officers’ Association, Marlon Serasinghe yesterday said: "We are left with no alternative but to strike as the government has ignored our grievances. If technical officers in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering fields strike work, development projects would come to a halt. The entire country will suffer and even people would not be able to use crematoria."

Addressing a press conference at the auditorium of the National Library and Documentation Centre in Colombo on Monday, Serasinghe said that over 5,000 technical officers worked in 159 public sector organisations countrywide and they would launch a three-day strike on Sept. 6, 7 and 8.

"We will stage a token strike first and then decide on what to do next. We have been duped repeatedly by the authorities by promising solutions to our problems. Our patience has run out.

The only option we are left with is trade union action," he said.

Serasinghe said their main demands were the conversion of their service to a countrywide profession, the establishment a full-pledged training centre, duty-free vehicles facility to the technical officers as in the case of other public services and the recruitment of educated youth to the government technical services. "Unless the authorities take swift action we will move ahead with a continuous strike action and that date will be decided after the token strike," Serasinghe said.

When the technical officers stayed out of work, all civil, mechanical or electrical work of public sector organisations would come to a standstill. Road construction, irrigation and regional development work would be affected, he claimed.

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