State Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Ashok Abeysinghe said that they are forced to take legal actions against the Railway trade unions for going on strike despite making railway services an essential public service.
The state minister said this speaking in the Parliament today (28).
Further, he said that the Railway Operation Supervisory Officers’ Union wrote a letter to the ministry yesterday (27) will go ahead with the strike today(28) ignoring the declaration made by the president.
“We had a meeting in the Finance Ministry with the leaders of the Railway trade unions last week, but the Ministry of Transport and the Finance Ministry could not give them a solution as the Report from the President’s committee regarding the rectification of their salary anomalies were not yet presented,” said Abeysinghe.
He also said that the Finance Minister told them that the report of this committee will be presented in two weeks time, then it would be analysed and a cabinet paper will be prepared accordingly to get the approval from the Cabinet.
“But despite promising them to give a solution within a month they decided to go to this strike,” he added.
“Trade unions request to give them a solution according to the report of the ministerial subcommittee which was also appointed by the president in 2017 with this regard,” said the state minister.
Further, he said that according to the statistics of the Finance ministry, out of 1.4 million state workers, 500,000 workers would be affected if these salary anomalies are given to them.
He said that since people face difficulties because of these strikes and to stop them from happening in the future, President Maithripala Sirisena declared Sri Lanka Railways as an essential public service Yesterday (27) according to a request made by the minister of transport.
He also said that a train driver would get a salary of Rs 300,000, a guard Rs. 275,000 and a station master Rs 200,000 including the Overtime(OT) worked.
Further, he said that generally a train driver would work for 8 hours and would get another 8 hours of rest but now they report to work before 8 hours and work for 16 hours so that the normal 8 hours would go as OT.
Abesinghe also said that he had requested Minister Ranatunga to have fingerprint scanners in place for the drivers so that we could at least reduce their OT by 50 per cent.
State Minister also said that it has been decided to hire retired employees of the Railway Department on a contract basis when the Railway trade unions go on strike.
“ We hope to make at least 200 train trips out of the 300 daily trips in the future when they go on strike,” he added.