FUTA denies SB’s claim dons are returning to work

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Conflicting claims have been made by University teachers and Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake over the strike by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA)

While the striking dons maintain that no one has broken ranks, lured by Minister Dissanayake’s offer that their salaries for the past three months’ will be paid if they report for work immediately, the Higher Education Ministry said a number of lecturers had returned to their duties yesterday.

President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri told The Island that all universities remained paralysed and FUTA members were on strike.

"We were at the Jaffna University yesterday and not a single lecturer heeded the Minister’s offer," he said.

FUTA launched the strike on July 04.

Several discussions with Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Presidential Secretary Lalith Weerathunga and the Labour Commissioner have so afar failed.

University lecturers held a protest march from Galle to Colombo last week to force the government to grant their demands.

When contacted for comment, Secretary to the Higher Education Ministry Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne said that a number of lecturers had returned to work yesterday heeding the minister’s request.

He said that Science Faculty of the Colombo University and Medical Faculty of the Ruhuna University had re-commenced academic activities yesterday as lecturers had returned to work.

"A section of university lecturers requested their salaries for the last three months," Dr. Navaratne said, adding that they could not pay salaries while the dons were on strike.

Lecturers who returned to work from yesterday would be paid the salaries for the last three months, he said.

Dr. Navaratne said that they felt the situation would improve and 80 per cent of lecturers would be back at work by the end of this week.

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