CMU explains donation to support FUTA strike October 27, 2012, 8:30 pm
The Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial & General Workers’ Union (CMU) donated half a million rupees to The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) on 3rd October 2012, in support of the general strike of its affiliated unions in the fourteen State-funded universities in this country. The CMU donation received publicity and some comment in the media, after the FUTA President had received it at a media conference held at the CMU headquarters that day. The reasons why the donation was made are worthy of publicity, as it was made from funds conserved by the CMU over a period of nearly sixty-five years, from the contributions of workers who are paid much lower wages than the salaries of university teachers,
It is necessary for us, in the first place, to make it clear to the public that the donation was not made in response to any solicitation from the FUTA leadership whatsoever. It was made mainly because of the importance of the FUTA demand for 6% of the GDP to be allocated by the State for Education at all levels, for millions of working men and women like most of the members of our union, who are constrained to bear considerable costs for the education of their children, due to inadequate funding for state schools,
The FUTA general strike was in pursuance of the demand for the grant of pay increases for all grades of teachers in all the universities, which were said to have been promised to them; that demand, like the demand for a guarantee of university autonomy was no doubt of special importance for them, in their academic sphere, and worthy of support, too.
As our Union has had considerable experience of prolonged strikes of workers, we could well guess that financial assistance might be needed by academics who might have been experiencing serious financial difficulties, without pay, as the strike dragged on in the absence of any positive indication from the Government and the State authorities responsible for Higher Education to settle the strike by direct discussion with the FUTA representatives. Before offering to make a financial contribution to FUTA in the circumstances, however, we consulted the President and the Treasurer of FUTA as to what financial assistance that they might have received for the strike. On the basis of the information they gave us in that respect, our Executive Committee decided to make the contribution of five hundred thousand rupees to the FUTA Activites and Welfare Fund on 3rd October.
We learnt that representatives of FUTA had been invited for discussions with responsible representatives of the Government and the University Authorities, shortly thereafter, and that they had decided to suspend their strike, with a return to work by their members on 12th October 2012, on certain assurances they had received. One was for restoration of pay withheld during the strike.
We were informed thereafter, by a letter from the President of FUTA on 21st October, "that the entirety of the donation made by the CMU will be used by FUTA for the purpose of conducting activities related to raising consciousness among the general public of the country on the issue of the need for protecting the state sector education from which families of members of the CMU also benefit".
We think that the publication of the reasons why our Union made its donation to FUTA. and the FUTA decision as to its future utilization, would be of public interest.
Issued on behalf of
The Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial & General Workers’ Union
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