Ranil wants Basil to reveal how to solve dons’ problemAugust 9, 2012, 10:06 pm
By Saman Indrajith
Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday in Parliament demanded to know how the Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa intended to settle the university teachers’ strike, which had taken a turn for the worse with the possibility of GCE A/L answer script evaluation being affected by the on-going trade union action.
Making a special statement, Wickremesinghe said, according to media reports President Mahinda Rajapaksa had detailed Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa to find a solution to the dons’ strike. He called upon Minister Rajapaksa to present to the House a comprehensive statement on how he intended to solve that problem.
The Opposition Leader said:
"The issue of university lecturers has been dragging on for over a period of a month by this stage. Also, a number of agitation campaigns were held on this issue. Requests were forwarded. Discussions were held. Still, no solution has been given as yet.
"The entire university system in the country has become inactive due to this problem. Educational opportunities of the university students have been restricted. Further worsening of the crisis emerged in the Advanced Level examination, now the problems are arising also on the scrutiny of the advanced level answer scripts.
"It is the duty of the government to solve this problem immediately.
"It was reported through the media that the powers of resolving this problem were assigned to the Secretary to the President. But, as was reported through media, on July 24, the discussions held between the Secretary to the President and the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) have been a failure. The media, on August 1, reported that the powers of solving the professional problems of the university lecturers have been entrusted by the President to Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development. It was also reported that Basil Rajapaksa hopes to solve this problem expeditiously.
"Therefore, I hope that Minister of Economic Development will present to this House a full statement also containing answers to the following questions. What is the solution anticipated to be given for the problems of the university lecturers? What are the steps already taken by the government to implement that solution?"
Minister of Higher Education S. B. Dissanayake said that lecturers of four universities and the Trincomalee Campus had abstained from trade union action. It was therefore wrong to say that the entire university system had been affected by the strike. The university teachers had been given an unprecedented salary increment recently, he said. "It was I who requested Minister Basil Rajapaksa to intervene in this issue. Some of the demands put forward by these university teachers are laughable."
Minister Dissanayake said another round of talks with the FUTA would be held today and tomorrow. "We have increased allocations for higher education from 2000 to 2012. The only years that this allocation was not increased were 2002 and 2003 under Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government."
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