Teachers-Prez meeting postponed

  • Presidential Secretariat informed us of postponement: Teachers
  • Ongoing union actions to continue 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The meeting which was scheduled to be held between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the teachers’ and principals’ trade unions within the course of this week, in order to discuss the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue, has been postponed until next week according to teachers’ trade unions.

The meeting with the President was scheduled to be held within this week before today (30), after approximately 2,000 members of nearly 30 teachers’ trade unions staged a protest in Colombo on 22 July against what they claim to be the Government’s continuous failure to address related issues including the teacher-principal salary anomaly, which has existed for more than 24 years.

They protested near the Colombo Fort Railway Station and proceeded to the Presidential Secretariat. Afterwards, three persons, including Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe, were allowed to enter the Presidential Secretariat where they had a discussion with its officials. During said discussion, the trade unions had been told that they would be given an opportunity to meet with the President before today in order to discuss their issues, including the teacher-principal salary anomaly.

However, the CTSU said yesterday (29) that officials of the Presidential Secretariat had informed them that the relevant discussion would not take place this week. Jayasinghe told The Morning that when they contacted the Presidential Secretariat on 28 July, it was informed that the discussion would not take place this week, and would instead be held next week.

Meanwhile, the teachers’ and principals’ trade unions that have withdrawn from teaching activities and examination related duties recently emphasised that Rajapaksa should immediately intervene in the matter, and provide a concrete solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue.

The CTSU has said that if Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is heading the Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed to look into the matter, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, and the other authorities are unable to provide a solution to the problems of teachers and principals, the President should intervene immediately.

“All the trade union actions that have been initiated as of now, including the withdrawal from online teaching activities, which continued for the 17th day on 28 July, were extremely successful. We will not call off any of them until the receipt of a permanent solution,” Jayasinghe told The Morning on 28 July.

The trade union action initiated by teachers’ and principals’ trade unions by withdrawing from all online teaching activities on 12 July continued for the 18th day yesterday.

Teachers’ and principals’ trade unions had decided to withdraw from all online teaching activities from 12 July until further notice, in protest over the arrest of a group of trade unionists and student activists, including Stalin, and the lack of a solution to the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue. In addition to online teaching activities, teachers and principals had withdrawn from duties related to sending applications for examinations, including the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level (A/L) examination, online.

They had also withdrawn from teaching activities at the regional learning centres recently established by the Education Ministry with the aim of facilitating the education of students who find it difficult to pursue their education online. There are about 2,160 regional learning centres that employ nearly 30,000 teachers and principals, and the latter two groups had withdrawn from those duties too.

Also, nearly 5,800 teachers and principals had decided to withdraw from the practical examination-related duties of the GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination that commenced on 26 July.