Teachers threaten islandwide strike over Mawanella issue

  • Cite non-arrest of Mawanella PS Dep. Chair
  • Mawanella Police Station surrounded for 2nd day

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Teachers’ trade unions (TUs) have threatened an islandwide strike unless legal action is taken against three individuals, including Mawanella Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) Deputy Chairman K.G. Piyatissa, who are alleged to have stormed into a Mawanella school and disrupted its activities.

More than 1,000 teachers and principals surrounded the Mawanella Police Station for the second day yesterday (9) in protest over the non-arrest of Piyatissa, who had allegedly forcibly entered a school in the Mawanella area on 3 November and disrupted the discharge of duties by its Principal and teachers.

Teachers and principals in the Mawanella Education Zone did not report to work yesterday in protest over the matter, and instead proceeded towards the Mawanella Police Station from the Mawanella town. Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin and Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe were also present.

Speaking to the media during the protest, Jayasinghe warned that if legal action is not taken against Piyatissa and the two other individuals who entered the said school on 3 November, not only schools in the Mawanella area and the Kegalle District, but schools islandwide would be closed in the coming days.

Further claiming that a total of 138 schools in the Mawanella Education Zone were closed yesterday due to the teachers’ and principals’ strike, he said that the Mawanella police officers and politicians who exert various political influences on the Police were entirely responsible for the closure of schools.

“The police officer who was present at the police station yesterday said that he would solve this issue within a very short period of time as promised, but we never believed what he was saying. Instead, we asked him to enforce the law against Jayatissa by taking action. Otherwise, we will take all possible action in a democratic and legal manner in this regard,” he emphasised.

Jayasinghe further claimed that the Mawanella Police is not enforcing the law against Jayatissa on the instructions of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne and that the IGP has been instructed to do so by the political authorities.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media during the protest, Stalin said that the Teachers’ and Principals’ Trade Union Alliance (TPTUA) would not at all hesitate to close all schools in the country again if the person concerned is not arrested by the Police in the coming days.

“Teachers and principals are no longer acting as the Government or the Education Ministry tells them to. They are acting on the decisions made by the trade unions, mainly the TPTUA,” he noted.

On 7 November, more than 500 teachers and principals surrounded the Mawanella Police Station in protest over the same matter.

On the morning of 3 November, Jayatissa and two other persons in question had entered a school in the area and asked the parents who were engaged in a protest to leave the school premises. They had then obstructed the Principal and teachers of the said school. Following the incident, the TPTUA had written to IGP Wickramaratne to initiate legal action against Jayatissa and the two other persons.