ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has apologised to school teachers and principals who are on strike for 11 days and counting over salary anomalies and the controversial Kotelawala National Defence University (KNDU) bill.
Citing teacher unions, SLFP general secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara told reporters Thursday (22) afternoon that talks held Wednesday with Education Minister Prof G L Peiris following a protest march had proved unsuccessful.
“We ask the government to intervene in this matter and help resolve it. The teachers’ issue is a long running one that goes back several years. Even with such issues, they continued to teach our beloved children over the past two years [amid the pandemic] with no complaints,” said Jayasekara.
“The pronouncements of certain ministers have also hurt their feelings. As the SLFP, we would like to apologise for any insensitivity. I think it’s totally wrong to treat them that way,” he added.
Jayasekara was referring to a comment attributed to Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella who had reportedly used the derogatory term ‘kalakanni’ to refer to teachers who had stopped online teaching during the pandemic as part of a trade union campaign. Loosely translated, ‘kalakanni’ means people not worth anyone’s time.
The SLFP has historically been associated with the teaching profession, with teachers being part of its highly successful 1956 campaign slogan ‘sanga, veda, guru, govi, kamkaru (Buddhist clergy, ayurvedic doctors, teachers, farmers, and workers) pancha maha balavegaya (five great forces).
“Teachers are one of our pancha maha balavegaya. The SLFP has a right to stand up for their rights,” said Jayasekara.
Jayasekara has been increasingly critical of the ruling coalition of which his party is a partner. (Colombo/Jul22/2021)