Non-academics to launch countrywide strike

By Chaminda Silva

University non-academics yesterday said they would commence a countrywide strike action on Thursday (25) if the Ministry of Higher Education failed to solve their longstanding problems.

Addressing the media in Colombo yesterday, Co-President of the Inter University Trade Union Joint Committee (IUTUJC) Edward Malwattage said one and a half years back the Higher Education Minister had promised to solve problems of the university non-academic staff. None of those promises had been kept, he added. "Our problems remain. We have been given an appointment with the Ministry and University Grants Commission officials on Tuesday. If the government fails to address our grievances properly on Tuesday, we will launch a countrywide strike on Thursday."

Malwattage said that IUTUJC comprises 15 unions of university non-academic staff members numbering around 15,000 and all of them would take part in the strike.

He said they had resorted to trade union action, one and a half years back and suspended it on July 27, 2016 after authorities gave them a written assurance that their grievances would be redressed.

Among the demands put forth by the non-academics are paying arrears, language proficiency allowance, a medical insurance scheme, a pension scheme and a proper recruitment policy.

Malwattage said: "We have been duped by authorities and we no longer have faith in them or their written assurances. We have conveyed our position to the UGC and hope that authorities will come up with solutions on Tuesday. Otherwise, we have no other option but to resume our agitation."

Co-Presidents PHDS Priyantha and Ruwan Kumara also addressed the media.

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