Ranil demands to know situation concerning striking dons

UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday demanded that the government reveal what progress had been made in the discussions, held so far, with university lecturers, to solve their salary problem and what action it expected to take to bring that problem to a close.

Making a special statement in parliament, the Opposition Leader said it was the responsibility of the government to adopt a flexible and sensible approach to the problem. Still, the whole country knew that the problem had worsened.

The country had incurred a heavy loss as a result of the university teachers’ strike, the Opposition Leader said. The academic work of the university students had come to a standstill for about three months now. There was uncertainty as to the future of hundreds of thousands of children as the GCE Advanced Level answer script evaluation had not begun, he said.

The salaries paid to workers in the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Ceylon Electricity Board and the Petroleum Corporation were higher than those paid to university teachers, the Opposition Leader said, noting that as a result educated youth were leaving the country without joining universities as lecturers.

There was an accepted method according to which the Ministry of Finance had to increase the salaries in the public sector of which we are well aware. But if we are going to consider only that policy of such a method, the situation can become more detrimental. If for some reason, about five hundred or a thousand lecturers decided to leave the country bidding farewell to the service in the universities, the whole system will collapse.

His statement said: "It is because of this reason that we continue to emphasise that more attention should by paid and a profound research must be made on the problem of the university lecturers because this is a question of the future of the nation as a whole.

"The constructive mediation made on the part of the Prelates and the Ministry of Finance raises our hopes. We are aware that the key to the solution to this problem about the future of the nation is with the Ministry of Finance. As such, I would like to ask from the Minister of Finance as to what progress has been made in the discussions held so far on this matter and against that background, what steps are to be followed in order to bring this problem to a close."

Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the government’s response would be presented to the House today.

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