News

Boycott 99% successful: Teachers claim

  • 3,000 primary sections with less than 200 students reopen

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Union Alliance (TPTUA) claimed that the ongoing trade union action, as per which the teachers and principals did not report for duty at 3,000 schools islandwide that were reopened yesterday (21) under the first phase of the school reopening, was over 99% successful.

The Education Ministry had decided to reopen the primary sections of schools with less than 200 students as the first phase of the reopening of schools that were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the TPTUA, which is currently engaged in a trade union action demanding a solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue, announced that they would not report to work yesterday and today (22).
Commenting on the matter, Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe claimed that the strike launched yesterday was 99% successful.

“Today (21), 99% of schools in all districts were closed. According to the information we have received, only the principals of 15 schools, out of the 74 schools in Hatton that were to be reopened yesterday, have reported to work, and only eight teachers and 13 students have come to the Sinhala medium schools in Hatton. All of the 129 schools in Polonnaruwa have been closed. The 304 schools scheduled to be reopened in Kandy yesterday were closed. Only 34 out of the 144 schools in the Matara area were operational. A total of 598 schools out of 600 in the North Western Province (NWP) were closed,” he claimed.

Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin also claimed that the strike launched yesterday across the country was about 99% successful and that the same will be launched today.

He said that the teachers and principals have given a proper answer to the Government and its supportive parties even though they had attempted to sabotage the teacher-principal trade union struggle by using various tactics.
“Our demand is that the salary increase recommended by the Cabinet Sub-Committee which looked into our salary anomaly issue be granted at once. That is why this struggle is being waged. The Government has been trying to sabotage this struggle through various means, but the teachers and principals did not go to school. Also, there are only two police officers and five development officers in the schools. What is this joke?” he queried.

Also claiming that the number of students attending the schools that opened yesterday was very low, Stalin said that it is clear that parents are not ready to hand over their children to any party other than the teachers and principals.
Meanwhile, he commented on the recent statement made by NWP Governor Raja Kollure that he would consider suspending the salaries of teachers and principals who did not report to schools yesterday.

Stalin queried: “Our strike was very successful in the NWP. We would like to ask Kollure what he is going to do now. Will the teachers not be allowed to enter schools on 25 October? Will they not be paid their November salary?”
He also warned that if the Government fails to provide an acceptable solution to their salary anomaly issue in the coming days, teachers and principals would be ready to go on a continuous strike at any moment after the reopening of all schools.

Nearly 30 teachers’ and principals’ trade unions have embarked on a number of trade union actions, including the 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 action demanding a solution to their salary anomaly issue, which marks the 103rd day today, and to resume teaching activities and return to examination-related duties from 25 October. The TPTUA also announced that until such time students, teachers and principals receive adequate facilities for online education activities including teaching and learning, online education activities would not resume. 

Accordingly, the teachers and principals have decided not to report for duty in schools yesterday and today and to report to schools on 25 October instead. However, 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 from 25 October.