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Storm over PB’s request for state-sector workers to take pay cut

ECONOMYNEXT – Facing a storm of protest the government is saying that the proposed pay-cut for state sector employees was a “personal request” made by the Secretary to the President and not an order.

Earlier the President’s Secretary P B Jayasundera sent out a memo to heads of state sector bodies asking employees to forego all or part of their May salaries to help with the budget deficit arising from the COVID 19 crisis.

His request extended to members of the armed forces and police as well.

He said he had already contributed his salary to the Widows and Orphans fund for government servants.

He had said that if the state sector workers gave up their pay the government could save close to Rs 100 billion.

Cabinet spokesman Media Minister Bandula Gunewardene deftly shifted the pay cut from the government to Jayasundera saying it had been a “personal request” from the country’s top civil servant and not an order from the government.

Various Trades Unions had voiced opposition to the proposal.

The powerful Teachers’ Union said that the government had agreed to defer loan payments for state sector employees in April because other allowances had already been cut.

Its leader Joseph Stalin told reporters “this is a totally unfair order and they can’t hide behind this so-called ‘request.’”

The leader of the Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya Sajith Premadasa in a statement issued Friday May 8, said that the government could not order workers to give up their salaries.

“If they wish to make a voluntary contribution that is acceptable,” the former Leader of the Opposition said. (Colombo, May 8, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana