ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s school teachers and principals who were on strike for much of the year are threatening maximum trade union action once again if a promised salary hike is not made by January 20, 2022.
Ceylon Teachers’ Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin told reporters on Wednesday (22) that no circular has been issued by the Ministry of Education pertaining to the promised increment.
“The budget has allocated 30 billion rupees. All teachers and principals unions have agreed that this must be implemented before January 20, 2022.
“A circular needs to be issued in order to make this payment by that date. Normally, for salaries to be paid on the 20th of the month, preparations are made by the 5th, which means this circular must be issued before the 5th. But we see no such initiative,” said Stalin.
Presenting the annual budget for next year, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa announced on November 12 that 30 billion rupees will be allocated for a proposed salary increment for school teachers and principals to be paid in one go.
The allocation, as recommended by a cabinet subcommittee on August 30, effectively ended the months-long trade union campaign by school teachers which saw a series of protests and a strike that dragged on for over 100 days.
“The education ministry has not implemented the cabinet decision,” said Stalin.
“It is up to the education ministry to implement it. The ministry hasn’t issued the gazette making the teachers and principals service a closed service either,” he added.
Education Minister Gunawardena declared school teachers’ and principals’ services as a “closed service” on August 31.
Both teachers’ and principals’ services are under the public service. But declaring them a closed service allows the government to treat teachers and principals separately from the rest of the public service when resolving their demands of salary anomalies, wages, transfers, and other benefits.
“The budget was passed on December 10. To date, the education ministry hasn’t taken any step pertaining to that circular,” said the union leader.
“If the government doesn’t pay us our [increment] from January as promised, we will take the maximum action we can take, including in connection to exams,” he added. (Colombo/Dec22/2021)