Tug o’ war on technicalities delay Unis returning to normal


By Dasun Edirisinghe

Academic activities in universities, which had been put on hold due to the trade union action by the teachers, will not commence soon despite the dons suspending their protest, university sources said yesterday.

The impasse had been caused by a decision taken by the vice chancellors of the universities not to issue fresh letters reappointing university lecturers to the voluntary posts from which they had resigned as part of their trade union action, sources said.

The university teachers who had resigned from the posts of heads of departments in the campuses demand that they be given new letters of appointment. The Vice chancellors have rejected this demand and have suggested that the teachers must withdraw their letters of resignation instead.

President of the Federation of University Teachers Associations, Dr Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri told The Island that their members would not withdraw the letters of resignation.

During the most recent discussion between the FUTA and the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education Dr Sunil Jayantha Navaratne where the university teachers had agreed to suspend their union action, it was also agreed that the ministry would take action to get VCs to offer new letters of appointment.

However, the VCs who met in a separate meeting have decided not to issue letters re-appointing former heads of departments but to entertain the academics to withdraw their letters of resignation, Dr Devasiri said.

Meanwhile, the University Grants Commission had revoked Circular No 956 it had issued earlier as demanded by the FUTA.

A hastily summoned meeting was held between FUTA members and the Treasury Secretary Dr P. B. Jayasundera yesterday morning.

At this meeting the Treasury Secretary had agreed to provide the Rs 600 cost of living allowance, paid to the public servants, to university teachers too. One of the demands of the FUTA was to pay this allowance separately without adding it to the basic salary of the teachers, Finance Ministry sources said.

The FUTA has also demanded, at that meeting, that the salaries of all probationary lecturers be increased by ten percent, FUTA sources said adding that the Treasury Secretary’s approval was pending.

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