FUTA battle: Some dons strike a discordant noteSeptember 16, 2012, 9:26 pm
by Dasun Edirisinghe
A section of university teachers yesterday condemned the ongoing strike, by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), claiming it was a joke to demand an allocation of six per cent of the GDP for education.
Addressing a press conference in Colombo, Convener of the Patriotic University Teachers’ Alliance Nemsiri Jayathilake said that the total government expenditure was 24 per cent of the GDP. He asked how the government could allocate one fourth of it for education?
"FUTA wants a salary hike, but it pretends that its strike is aimed at protecting free education," he said.
Senior lecturer Jayathilake said that FUTA claimed that according to UNESCO standards six per cent of the GDP should be allocated for education, which was not true.
The UNESCO had only stated that not less than six per cent of the GDP should be allocated for education, but had not said that the allocation should be made by the government, he said, adding that the UN body was of the view that ‘six per cent’ should come from both public and private sector.
Jayathilake said that the Examinations Department had been compelled to postpone the GCE (A/L) answer script evaluation indefinitely due to the FUTAstrike.
According to him, it was very unfair by the innocent students to boycott answer script evaluation.
"When doctors launch continuous strikes, they engage in emergency services," the senior academic said, noting that it was very unfair of FUTA to boycott all educational activities.
Jayathilake said that when FUTA struck work last year, the government had promised to increase salaries, and the university teachers got salary increments in July 2011; they would get another pay hike next month (October). President Mahinda Rajapaksa had promised to address the issue in the next budget, he said.
As most intelligent people of the country, the FUTA must solve their problems with the government through discussions, not by trade union action, he said.
Jayathilake said that a majority of university teachers had been misled by FUTA’s top officials who had a hidden agenda.
When contacted by The Island for comment FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said that if the FUTAhad misled university teachers, the patriotic teachers could convince the strikers and persuade them to report back for work.
"We have held discussions with several government members, including Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake, National Salaries and Cadre Commission and Labour Department," Dr. Dewasiri said, adding they had recognised their demands.
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