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Saturday March 2nd, 2024

Sri Lanka trade union collective threatens to join school teachers on strike

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

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka Trade Union Alliance (SLTUA) has threatened to join school teachers and principals who are currently on strike for 81 days running over unresolved salary anomalies.

Inter-Company Employees’ Union Chairman and former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Wasantha Samarasinghe told reporters on Tuesday (28) that the SLTDA, after a series of discussions, has agreed to support the teachers’ cause.

“It has been over two and half months and the government had enough time to solve the teachers’ and principals’ salary anomaly. After several rounds of talks with all unions gathered here, we have decided to support the strike until a solution is given,” he said.

Teachers and principals have been on strike and have withdrawn from online education since July 11. A series of protests were held in July and August until surging cases of COVID-19 put a stop to it. A number of protestors were arrested and sent to “forced quarantine” but were subsequently released.

The cash-strapped government has been forced to look into the matter, with the education minister proposing a 5,000-rupee allowance for teachers and principals who will be on duty in September and October, the months in which the government has planned to hold GCE Advanced Level and grade 5 scholarship examinations.

The government has postponed the two key exams, drawing public criticism.

The minister has said that implementation of the salary revisions will be done in stages through a 2022 budget proposal. Full implementation will be done in the next four years.

The government also decided to declare the teacher and principals services as closed services on August 31.

Though the trade unions have welcomed the decisions of a “closed service” and a salary hike through the 2022 budget proposals, they have not given up the demand to have the salary anomalies fixed as a part of the previous Subodhini committee report.

SLTUA Chairman Samarasighe said the teachers have yet to hear a response from the authorities about their view on the matter.

“It is time that the finance minister and the education minister came forward and discussed solutions with the teachers. If the government is not ready to do that, we as the trade union alliance would like to say that the teachers are not alone in this fight,” he said.

Samarasinghe said, what with the government allocating funds for construction and other projects, it is vital that it immediately focus on the teachers’ salary anomaly and restore education in the country. The strike has affected more than four million students, he said.

I the government fails to respond, trade unions in semi-government, government and private sectors will put their weight behind the strike, he added. (Colombo/Sep29/2021)

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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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