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N’Eliya post office building to UDA for investment

N’Eliya post office building to UDA for investment

09 Nov 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

  • UDA to grant Posts Dept. alternative building
  • Postal workers won’t leave existing premises: Union
  • Posts declared essential service 

Postmaster General S.R.W.M.R.P. Sathkumara, issuing a statement, has stated that no post office owned by the Department of Posts will be closed and that the President’s Secretary has been informed of the agreement to hand over the Nuwara Eliya post office building to the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in order to allow for a more effective investment opportunity as per the Government’s policy.

Meanwhile, the United Postal Trade Unions’ Front said that it has, however, commenced a two-day token strike against the Government’s alleged attempts to sell the Department’s resources. Its Co-convenor Chinthaka Bandara said that the Government should abandon its plans to sell the Nuwara Eliya and Kandy post offices.

However, the Department stated on Tuesday (7) that steps had been taken to cancel the leave of all postal employees with immediate effect within the three days of yesterday (8), today (9), and tomorrow (10).

Cabinet Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardana has assured that the UDA would provide a suitable building in its place to operate the said post office, the Department statement said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has meanwhile issued an Extraordinary Gazette notification last evening declaring the postal service as an essential public service. The Gazette has been issued by virtue of the powers vested in the President in terms of Section 2 of the Essential Public Services Act, No. 61 of 1979. Accordingly, the postal service has been declared to be an essential public service, considering it necessary that the services provided by any public corporation, Government department, local authority, or co-operative society or any branch thereof – which are engaged in the provision of the postal service – are essential to the life of the community and are likely to be impeded or interrupted, the gazette states.

In the wake of the Government having allegedly decided to hand over the Nuwara Eliya post office to the Taj Samudra Hotel for a hotel project, the Ceylon Postal Services Union (CPSU) stated that the postal workers would, however, not leave the said post office.

Gunawardana announced on Tuesday that the Government had decided to hand over the Nuwara Eliya Post Office to the Taj Samudra Hotel. In protest of the Government's decision, the trade unions within the Department had launched a two-day token strike from 12 midnight on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday, CPSU President Jagath Mahinda said that they would end the ongoing token strike at 12 midnight tonight, but would take further action if the Government does not reverse its decision to hand over the said post office for a hotel project. He also said that the Government had taken such a decision when Sathkumara and State Minister of Mass Media Shantha Bandara had assured the trade unions that the said post office would not be handed over to any party.

"The token strike is our initial step against the Government's decision. We will end this tomorrow (referring to today, 9), and get into more strict action afterwards. All we ask from the Government is to reverse its decision. Even if the postal staff at the Nuwara Eliya post office are given notice to leave at one point, they will not be leaving. We, as trade unions within the Department, would fully support them," he said.

Sathkumara was not available for comment.

Elsewhere, Opposition Parliamentarian Prof. G.L. Peiris also criticised the Government's decision to sell the Nuwara Eliya post office, and said that they would work to inform the public of the Government's attempts to sell national resources. "There are lots of hotels, so why does the Government need to hand over this post office to be converted into a hotel? We strongly condemn this sort of action taken by this Government without any love or concern for the country's resources."

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