Over 700 K Government servants to strike on Wednesday 

  • Demand Rs. 18,000 salary hike
  • Claim all requests to Prez, PM, Basil ignored

By Buddhika Samaraweera 

More than 700,000 state-sector employees attached to the Sri Lanka Government Officers’ Trade Union Association (SLGOTUA) are to engage in a one-day strike on 8 December, claiming that the Government has not yet responded to their request to increase the salaries of public servants as a remedy to the rising cost of living (CoL), The Morning learnt.

Speaking to us yesterday (5), the SLGOTUA National Organiser B.A.P. Basnayake said that there will also be a protest on the same day near the Parliament Roundabout with the participation of public servants representing a number of sectors.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday, Basnayake said that the SLGOTUA has made requests to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on five separate occasions to increase the salaries of all public servants as a solution to the rising CoL.

“Nearly a month has passed since the first request was made, but the Government has so far failed to find a solution or discuss the matter with public servants. We have therefore decided to apply for leave and not to report to work on 8 December. In addition, we have planned to hold a protest near the Parliament Roundabout with the participation of a large number of public servants,” he said.

According to Basnayake, Grama Niladharis, Development Officers, Agricultural Research Officers, and other field officers representing several state institutions will be engaged in these trade union actions while the trade unions operating within the Sri Lanka Postal Department and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority have also expressed their support.

The SLGOTUA, on 14 November warned that it would initiate a trade union action without giving notice, if the Government did not increase the salaries of public servants through the 2022 Budget. Pointing out further that the prices of essential items have increased several times during the past few months, the SLGOTUA has urged the Government to bring in amendments to the Budget to increase the salaries of public servants by at least Rs. 18,000.

However, claiming that there is no possibility of raising the salaries of public servants under the present circumstances, the Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle recently 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 to inquire whether the Finance Ministry would consider the SLGOTUA’s demand on 17 November, Attygalle said: “It is not possible to do so because there is no provision in the Budget for such a salary increase at the moment. However, the Finance Minister 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 added 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 also said that the only way to increase the salaries as demanded by public servants would be to increase the taxes across the board. “Tell them to propose how to get the necessary money for it too,” he mentioned.