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Saturday March 2nd, 2024

Sri Lanka teachers promise more protests on World Teachers’ Day if salary crisis not resolved

A student in a remote area trying to connect to the internet for online education

ECONOMYNEXT – School teachers and principals in Sri Lanka are to launch a fresh series of protests on World Teachers’ Day that falls on Wednesday (06) demanding a solution to unresolved salary anomalies, a union leader said.

Ceylon Teachers Union Secretary Joseph Stalin told reporters on Tuesday (05) that trade union action will continue until the crisis was resolved.

“We urge the government to look at this issue at least on World Teachers’ Day and arrive at a solution to end the teachers strike which has now been going on for 86 days,” said Stalin.

School teachers and principals have been on strike demanding a solution to salary issues that have plagued the service for decades. The strike has effectively ended online education for school students who have had to rely on distant learning for much of 2021 due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

“We have organised protests covering 312 district secretariat divisions in the country and we will continue our trade union action until our demands are met,” said Stailn.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said on Tuesday that a decision taken by the cabinet of ministers on the matter has been finalized, and requested the teachers to resume their duties.

On the 51st day of the strike, the cabinet announced a decision to declare both teachers and principal’s services as closed services.

Both services are under the public service, but declaring them a closed service will allow the government to treat them separately from the rest of the public service when resolving their demands of salary anomalies, wages, transfers, and other benefits.

This will also mean that cadres from the teachers and principals services cannot be transferred to any other public services.

“We said the teacher’s service will be recognised as a closed service,” Gunawardena told reporters.

The decision was recommended by a four-member cabinet subcommittee which looked into the salary anomalies of teachers and principals.

Gunawardena had previously said a special allowance of 5,000 rupees will also be granted for teachers and principals who will be on duty during September and October 2021, the months in which the government had planned to hold GCE Advanced Level and grade 5 scholarship examinations.

The education ministry had postponed the two key exams, drawing public criticism.

“We have also informed all teachers unions that the salary issue will be solved and the payments will be made gradually starting from the next budget proposal,” Gunawardena said on Tuesday.

Full implementation will be carried out in the next four years, he said.

Meanwhile, health authorities have asked that the unions refrain from organising another series of protests at a critical time when epidemic finally seems to be under control to an extent.

“We are not opposing trade union action,” Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told reporters on Tuesday.

“But if their actions cause the virus to spread more, and if it threatens the health of the general public and the people who join these protests, as health services we think it is a crime, especially at a time where we have not yet taken full control of the situation.”

“We urge everyone not to join these protests at this moment,” he added. (Colombo/Oct05/2021)

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Sri Lanka eyes SOE law by May 2024 for better governance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to pass a Public Commercial Business (PCB) Act improve governance of state-owned enterprise by May 2024 as part of an anti-corruption efforts following an International Monetary Fund assessment.

Sri Lanka’s state enterprises have been used by politicians to give ‘jobs of the boys’, appropriate vehicles for personal use, fill board of directors and key positions with henchmen and relatives, according to critics.

Meanwhile macro-economists working for the state also used them to give off-budget subsides or made energy utilities in particular borrow through supplier’s credits and state banks after forex shortages are triggered through inflationary rate cuts.

The government has taken billons of dollars of loans given to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation from state banks.

There have also been high profile procurement scandals connected to SOEs.

An SOE Reform Policy was approved by Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers in May 2023.

The Public Commercial Business (PCB) Act has now been drafted.

A holding company to own the SOEs will be incorporated and an Advisory Committee and Board of Directors will be appointed after the PCB law is approved, the statement said. (Colombo/Mar01/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 308.80/90 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 308.80/90 to the US dollar Friday, from 309.50/70 on Thursday, dealers said.

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.65/75 percent up from 10.50/70 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent from 11.90/12.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.15/35 percent down from 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent up from 12.30/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.30/45 percent down from 12.35/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/13.00 percent from 12.55/13.00 percent. (Colombo/Mar1/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up 0.37-pct, Expo to de-list

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up 0.37 percent on Friday, and SG Holdings, the parent company of Expolanka Holdings Plc, said it was taking the company private.

Expolanka is the largest listed company on the Colombo Stock Exchange.

“Expolanka Holdings PLC has, at the Board Meeting held on 1st March 2024, considered a request from its principal shareholder and resolved to initiate the de-listing of the Company’s shares from the Official List of the Colombo Stock Exchange subject to obtaining necessary shareholder approval and regulatory approvals,” the company said in a stock exchange filing.

As per arrangements with SG Holdings Global Pte Ltd, the Company’s majority shareholder, it will purchase its shares from shareholders who may wish to divest their shareholding in the Company at a purchase price of Rs 185.00 per share. The share closed up at 150.50.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.37 percent, or 39.47 points, at 10,691; while the S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.64 percent, or 19.59 points, at 3,037.

Turnover stayed above the 1 billion mark for the sixth consecutive day, registering 1.4 billion.

Crossings in Melstarcorp Plc (135mn) up at 89.50, Hatton National Bank Plc (64mn) up at 158.00, Hemas Holdings Plc (53mn) up at 75.00 and Central Finance Company Plc (26mn) up at 103.50, added significantly to the day’s turnover.

“The upward trend is continuing, with more retail buying also coming in, the number of trades was more than 10,000 today,” a market participant said. “Investors are looking for undervalued stocks and buying in quantities.” (Colombo/Mar1/2024).

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