Parents protest in support of teachers
- Unions say 5,000 protests held yesterday
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Nearly 5,000 protests organised by parents of schoolchildren, according to the Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Union Alliance (TPTUA), were held in front of schools across the country yesterday (3) in support of the trade union actions initiated by the TPTUA demanding that the Government solve the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue.
The main protest, which was attended by nearly 200 parents, was held in the Armour Street area in Colombo 10. In addition to the parents, Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe, and several other trade union representatives also participated in the main protest.
Speaking to the media during the protest, Stalin said that the struggle for a solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue has now become a struggle not only of teachers and principals, but also of parents. “Parents across the country have got onto the streets to support our struggle. Our struggle is now reaching the brink of victory,” he claimed.
He also accused Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa of acting arbitrarily by not giving a discussion to the teachers’ and principals’ trade union representatives to discuss the salary anomaly issue. “The Government has not given us a discussion after the meeting held with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Despite several requests for a meeting, (Minister) Basil Rajapaksa has not given us an opportunity yet. However, today there are about 9,000,000 parents with us and we will come forward with them.”
Meanwhile, speaking during the protest, Jayasinghe stated that a joint trade union action with the support of many other trade unions in several other sectors has been planned. He said that the nature of the said joint trade union action would be announced today (4).
Nearly 30 teachers’ and principals’ trade unions have 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, they have now relaxed some of these trade union actions including by returning to physical teaching in schools under a work-to-rule campaign. They are further engaged in the trade union action in which they have withdrawn from all online teaching activities, and the trade unions recently said that they would not resume online teaching activities unless they and the students are provided with the necessary facilities such as tablets, laptops, and data packages.