By Buddhika SamaraweeraReinforcing a warning issued last week, the Sri Lanka Government Officers’ Trade Union Association (SLGOTUA) has said that nearly one million public servants will be engaged in an islandwide strike action on 29 November, if there is no positive response from the Government to their request to increase the salaries of public servants as a remedy to the rising cost of living.Speaking to The Morning yesterday (21), SLGOTUA Secretary Gamini Hettiarachchi said: “We have given the Government a period of two weeks to respond to our request, which will end on 27 November. Therefore, if there is no positive response from the Government, we have decided to launch an islandwide strike action on 29 November. It will be supported by nearly one million public servants including about 700,000 SLGOTUA members.”Claiming that they would not give up the demand by launching a one-day-strike, he said the future course of action would be decided considering the Government’s response to their strike action on 29 November. He also said that several trade unions within the government sector are to meet and discuss the matter in Colombo 5 today (22).According to him, the SLGOTUA has informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, all ministry secretaries, and district and divisional secretaries of their decision to launch a strike on 29 November.The SLGOTUA, in a letter dated 13 November 2021 and addressed to the President, the Prime Minister, and Minister of Finance, warned that it would initiate a trade union action without giving notice if the Government did not take steps to increase the salaries of public servants through the 2022 Budget proposal.The SLGOTUA last week warned that if there is no positive response from the Government to their request to increase the salaries of public servants, more than 700,000 public servants will inevitably go on a trade union action after 27 November.However, claiming that there is no possibility of raising the salaries of public servants under the present circumstances, the Ministry of Finance on Thursday (18) called on the public servants who are demanding a salary increase to suggest how to obtain the necessary monies to make such a hike.When contacted by The Morning, Ministry of Finance and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle said: “It is not possible to increase the salaries because there is no provision in the Budget for such at the moment. However, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has asked the National Pay Commission (NPC) to fast-track the designing of a new salary structure, considering the salary anomalies, etc. That is the only proposal as of now.”Speaking further, Attygalle noted that a sum of Rs. 324 billion a year would be needed to increase the salaries of all public servants by at least Rs. 18,000, as the SLGOTUA has demanded.“There are 1.5 million public servants. It would cost Rs. 324 billion a year to increase their salaries by Rs. 18,000. At present, the Government spends only Rs. 1,000 billion to pay the total salaries,” he claimed.He also said that the only way to increase the salaries as demanded by public servants would be to increase the taxes across the board.