Cabinet committee to study rail workers woes

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A four member Cabinet subcommittee was appointed yesterday to look into the demands made by striking railway trade unions. The Ministerial subcommittee is chaired by Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama. The other members appointed to the subcommittee are Ministers Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Ranjith Madduma Bandara.

Minister Dr. Amunugama told the Daily News that the subcommittee has already sought out a date to discuss on the matter with the strikers. Railways General Manager S.S. Abeywickrama told the Daily News that workers of seven trade unions have reported to work by yesterday and five more trade unions are yet to report to work.

The GM believes that the strikers should report to work since a Cabinet subcommittee was appointed to look into their salary anomalies and other issues.

“Now that a subcommittee was appointed, they should report back to work. I think the workers who are striking are not really aware of the fact that the government is already looking into the matter.

“Then there is the gazette notification which declared the railway service as an essential service. We cannot take strict action against those workers who are not well informed or made aware of the situation,” Abeywickrama said. A contingency plan was arranged yesterday by the Transport Ministry to provide transport services for students sitting the GCE Ordinary Level Examination inconvenienced by the train strike continued by the trade unions for the seventh day yesterday.

The numbers of train journeys had increased to 40 by yesterday, Transport Ministry media spokesman Viraj Abeysinghe said in a press statement. It said that express trains will be operating as semi-express to facilitate students sitting for the O/L examination as well. Three trains from Polgahawela, two from Aluthgama and short distance trains from Panadura and Ragama bound for Fort Railway station were available to students.

The Sri Lanka Transport Board had allocated 1,000 buses, 60 luxury buses and 650 school buses to the service from yesterday as well.

The National Transport Commission has also allowed permission to any bus that has licence from the Commission to provide services in any route. It has also allowed using railway tickets in private buses as well. The Railway Department also said that 15 trains reached the Fort Railway Station by 9.00 a.m. in the morning yesterday and that the Kankesanthurai – Mount Lavinia Intercity Train was also in operation.