President not ready for talks with FUTA

by Narada Nissanka

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday that he was not ready to hold discussions with striking university teachers unless they stopped their strike.

Addressing newspaper editors at the Speaker’s official residence, he said that as a government, several steps had been taken to solve the university teachers’ problems, but they had not taken them into consideration and continued with the strike.

"I’m not ready to discuss with them while they are on strike," Rajapaksa said adding that however the government’s effort to find a solution to the problem would continue.

The President said that he would consider giving them a solution in the November budget.

According to him, the government negotiated with university teachers and also held discussions with the Labour Commissioner and several other parties regarding the demands of university teachers.

Rajapaksa said that as the top intellectuals of the country it was inappropriate for them to strike especially when the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was about to take place in Sri Lanka.

University teachers launched their strike on July 04 and their main demands were an allocation of 6 per cent of the GDP for education, consult university teachers when taking decisions on higher education sector and a pay hike.

The Higher Education Ministry closed universities two weeks ago due to the strike and re-opened them on Thursday, but academic activities were at a standstill as the strike continued.

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