Postal ‘overtime boycott’ leads to 2.5 million letters, parcels piling up at CME

17 trade unions demand removal of PMG


by Ravi Ladduwahetty

A staggering 2.5 million letters, both ordinary and registered, and parcels have piled up at the Central Mail Exchange as the ‘overtime boycott’ by postal employees continued demanding the removal of Post Master General M. K. B. Dissanayake.

A total 22,000 postal employees representing 17 trade unions have launched an island-wide ‘overtime boycott’ which has continued for seven consecutive days. The protesting trade unions want the PMG axed claiming he had been found guilty of 21 of the 26 corruption charges leveled against him.

The trade union action has crippled not only the Central Mail Exchange (CME) but also all post offices countrywide. In support of their demands, some postal employees have also staged an ‘Upawasaya’ at the CME.

"Normally, we handle over 500,000 ordinary letters and 70,000 registered letters on a daily basis but the clearing and delivery of about 99% of them have now come to a standstill, says Chinthaka Bandara, media spokesman of the Postal Trade Union Front, the umbrella organization of the 17 unions. This position was endorsed by H. A. Nihal, and President of the United National Postal Employees Union.

"We met with Posts Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga who agreed to our demand to remove the PMG, but he said he was awaiting the legal conditions to be approved, Bandara said. "We will call off the action if the Minister gives a written assurance within a week".

Meanwhile, other top official sources said that the Minister is hesitant to remove the PMG as he was not only the Head of the Public Services Union but also a close confidante of the Additional Secretary to the President Gamini Senarath.

They also point out that the total loss of the Postal Department was Rs. 3 billion for 2010 and that this year’s loss has already aggregated to Rs. 3.5 billion due to alleged rampant corruption.

When contacted by The Sunday Island, Minister Kumaratunga said that he could not arbitrarily remove the PMG or for that matter even a minor services employee as that authority was vested with the Cabinet of Ministers.

He said that he has directed Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando to officially request the Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration to conduct an official inquiry the findings of which would be submitted to the Cabinet. The request letter from Fernando to the Ministry of Public Administration Ministry would be released tomorrow, he said.

The Minister has also told the Unions that the written assurance to them that the PMG would be removed within the next seven days could not be done as the process he spelt out would take more time.

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