The Electricity Workers' Union has filed action in court alleging that the CEB is in contempt because it has disregarded a direct court orderBy Imesh Ranasinghe | September 11, 2019
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is paying its engineers higher salaries they are not entitled to, in violation of a court order, Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Workers’ Union Malaka Wickramasinghe said.
Speaking to RepublicNext, Wickramasinghe said the Board has failed to follow an order by the Court of Appeal against what he called the illegal increase of engineers’ salaries since 2015.
The Union has filed further action in court against the CEB, said Wickramasinghe, adding that the institution is in contempt of court.
The Union leader said that in January 2015 the CEB prepared a separate salary scale for the engineers and increased their salaries in violation of the regulations of that time.
This resulted in increasing the salary ratio between the ordinary workers and engineers from 1:6 to 1:8.3.
Since a number of discussions with the management had failed, said Wickramasinghe, the Workers’ Union decided to go to court against the CEB management in April 2015.
After discussions with management had broken down, he recalled, his 22,000-strong union went on a week-long strike in September 2017 that was eventually called of when the management decided to increase the salary of all workers in different grades by 8-13 per cent.
“But the payment to engineers still remained unchanged,” he added.
“So we continued with our court case and its judgement came on 02 April this year saying that the increase in engineers salary is illegal and should be declared null and void,” Wickramasinghe said.
The union leader further charged that CEB management had paid the salaries to the engineers in accordance with the court order only for three months and in August had started to pay the salaries again according to the scale which had been declared illegal.
“Since the GM did not reply to the letters we wrote asking him to stop these illegal payments, we decided to file another case in the Court of Appeal for contempt of court against the management,” said Wickramasinghe.
He further said that the salary increase for the engineers would’ve been acceptable had the CEB been a profit-making entity, which it isn’t – having made a loss of Rs. 139 billion just this year.
“Eventually it is the general public and taxpayers who would have to bear this burden,” he added.
Wickramasinghe also revealed that the CEB has been paying Rs. 77 million a month as capacity charges for the Embilipitiya Ace Power power station when the CEB could have paid Rs. 2,000 million and purchased the entire power station.
“They had paid Rs. 4,000 million for the past four years to the power station,” he said.
The union has complained of this corruption to the Presidential Commission, he said, making the Commission a first witness in the case.