by Saman Indrajith
Teachers and principals will not report for work when schools reopen on 21 Oct., if the government fails to come up with a solution, by that date, teacher unionists say.
General Secretary of the JVP-led Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union, Mahinda Jayasinghe said that the Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Union Alliance had decided not to report for work on 21 Oct., if the issue of teacher-principal salary anomalies could not be resolved before the reopening of schools.
Jayasinghe said that the government should take action to rectify the salary anomalies affecting teachers and principals before reopening schools. It should take a decision in this regard within the next 10 days. “If not, our unions will have to take tougher action when schools reopen on Oct 21,” he said.
Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the principals of the schools with fewer than 200 students had been summoned for a discussion by the Education Ministry on Friday (8) but they had boycotted it. The Secretary of Education and all provincial directors of education had been informed in writing that such meetings would be boycotted, Stalin said, adding that as of yesterday 91 days had elapsed since the launch of the teacher-principal trade union struggle.
President of the All Ceylon United Teachers’ Union Ven. Yalwela Pannasekara Thera said that the teachers and principals had decided to launch a continuous strike if the schools were reopened while the teachers’ and principals’ salary issues remained unresolved.
Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the salary anomalies prevailing in the teacher service would be resolved by Budget 2022 to be presented on 12 Nov. “The government has decided to increase the salaries of teachers and principals in several phases. “All arrangements had been made to reopen schools starting from Oct 21. The teachers and principals should support the resumption of the school education system. We have information that a large number of teachers are waiting to report to work. Some teacher unions too have agreed to commence schools on the basis of the government’s promise to solve the salary issue of teachers in the Budget 2022. It is only a few union leaders who are against this move. A vast majority of teachers want to get back to school and help students with their studies. There must not be any action to sabotage this effort, especially when the government has been sensitive to their woes and accepted that they have genuine grievances that need to be rectified. Action has been taken. We have given them our word. All we need is time to deliver upon our promises.”