To stick to teaching and organise protests after school
BY Buddhika SamaraweeraThe teachers’ and principals’ trade unions reported back to schools yesterday (25) under a strict work-to-rule campaign, and had also organised over 300 physical protests in various parts of the country, which they took part in after school hours. The teachers had been engaged in trade union action for more than 100 days demanding a solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly prior to yesterday’s resumption of teaching activities. The series of over 300 protests was organised by the Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Union Alliance (TPTUA), and the main protest, which was attended by nearly 500 teachers and principals, was held in front of the Colombo Fort Railway Station under the leadership of Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe. Speaking to the media during the protest, Stalin said that although teachers and principals have resumed teaching from yesterday, the struggle to force the Government to address the salary anomaly issue would continue. According to Stalin, since yesterday, they have launched a trade union action to work-to-rule. He said that they would not engage in any additional duties other than teaching. “We asked Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa for an opportunity to discuss the salary anomaly, but so far we have not been given an opportunity. If the Government thinks that we have stopped this struggle and reported back to schools, they are completely wrong. We resumed teaching simply because we thought of the students and their parents,” he added. Speaking during the protest, Jayasinghe yesterday warned that all teachers would begin their next strike action when all teachers and principals are called back to schools. “Today, we are protesting in hundreds of places and giving a message to the Government. We started this struggle in a new round today. Therefore, we would like to tell the Government that it is us who decide whether schools will continue to be opened or not,” he added. Nearly 30 teachers’ and principals’ trade unions had embarked on a number of trade union actions, including withdrawal from all physical and online teaching activities and examination-related duties, demanding a solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue since 12 July 2021. However, the TPTUA decided last week to relax the trade union actions, resume teaching activities, and return to examination-related duties from yesterday. Nevertheless, they have warned that they hope to launch a number of other trade union actions from time to time, such as protests, strikes, and parental awareness programmes in the coming days.