Teachers suspend TU action after Budget

  • Unions warn to resume if January salary not hiked

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Following the allocation of Rs. 30 billion through the Budget for the financial year 2022 to resolve the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue, the Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Union Alliance (TPTUA) has decided to suspend the trade unions actions initiated by them demanding a solution to said salary anomaly issue until 20 January 2022, according to the Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) and the Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU).

However, the TPTUA has warned that if the Government does not add the salary increase recommended by the Cabinet Subcommittee, which looked into the salary anomaly issue, to the January salary of teachers and principals, the trade unions’ struggle for a solution to the issue will resume.

Speaking to the media yesterday (14), CTU General Secretary Joseph Stalin announced that the teachers’ and principals’ trade unions have decided to suspend trade union actions that were in effect for more than 120 days until 20 January 2022. However, he said that the Cabinet Subcommittee-recommended salary increase should be added to the January salaries of teachers and principals.

“The Ministry of Education should issue circulars regarding this salary increase. We must receive the salary increase with the salary that we will get on 20 January. Otherwise, we will not hesitate to resume the trade union struggle that has been going on for more than 120 days demanding a solution to this issue,” he added.

Stalin further stressed that the Government should take action to implement the recommendations made by the Cabinet Subcommittee on resolving other issues in the field of education within the relevant time frame.

“In addition to the salary anomaly issue, the Cabinet Subcommittee also made recommendations on several other issues and the Government should take immediate action to implement those recommendations within the proposed framework as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, CTSU General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe also expressed his views on the matter to the media yesterday.

He said that the TPTUA was able to achieve a temporary victory as a result of the trade union struggle that had been going on for more than 120 days. However, he said the ultimate victory in the struggle to resolve the salary anomaly issue would be the implementation of the recommendations of the Subodhini Committee, which previously looked into the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue.

“The Government and various other parties have tried various tactics to stifle our struggle, but we have been able to lead this struggle to some victory because we have taken the right decisions at the right time. However, we are not confident if the Government will implement what it has promised through the Budget proposal. If the Government fails to do so, we will definitely take action to get our trade union actions back on track,” he said.

He further stated that the TPTUA will definitely intervene to do justice not only to teachers and principals, but also to teacher advisors and nearly 75,000 retired teachers and principals who have also faced hardships due to the salary anomaly issue.

Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, on 10 November, agreed to grant the salary increase recommended by the Cabinet Subcommittee in one go, through the budget proposal for the financial year 2022. Furthermore, when the budget proposal was presented to the Parliament on 12 November, it was announced that a sum of Rs. 30,000 million has been allocated to resolve the issue.

A Cabinet Subcommittee was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to look into the salary anomaly issue and the report prepared by the said Subcommittee was discussed at the cabinet meeting held on 30 August 2021. Accordingly, Minister of Education Dinesh Gunawardena at the time announced that through the budget proposal for 2022, the relevant salary revisions would be given to resolve the teachers’ and principals’ salary anomalies.

However, the trade unions did not accept Gunawardena’s announcement and nearly 30 teachers’ and principals’ trade unions 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. They then relaxed some of these trade union actions, including by returning to physical teaching in schools, under a work-to-rule campaign.