Teachers’ TUs claim Police ignoring complaints from protestors

  • Allege Police hotlines only attentive to non-supporters of union action

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Teachers’ trade unions (TUs) have alleged that the Police are refusing to accept complaints of teachers who have been subjected to various pressures for supporting the ongoing teachers’ and principals’ trade union actions, demanding solutions to the issues in the education sector, including salary anomalies.

Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (20), Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe claimed that although Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera recently stated that teachers could call the hotlines 118 or 119 and inform the Police if they are threatened by someone for not supporting the ongoing trade union actions, when someone who supports these actions is unduly influenced by someone, such complaints are not accepted by the Police.

“Teachers who teach online can only complain through 119 if there is a threat. When someone who is supporting the trade union actions is threatened, their complaint is not being accepted. On 19 September, a group of teachers and principals who are engaged in the trade union actions tried to inform the Police of some incidents where they were unduly influenced by some individuals, but the Police have told them that such complaints are not accepted. We don’t know where such a law is mentioned and therefore would like to ask the Minister in charge of the Police to show us where this strange law is,” he claimed.

Weerasekera had recently stated that if anyone influences the teachers who are not involved in the trade union actions to stop carrying out online teaching activities, such persons would be investigated through the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and would be subject to punishment under the provisions of the Penal Code.

He had further said that a group of teachers who are not involved in the ongoing trade union actions had met him, where he was informed that they have allegedly received death threats from certain individuals. He also claimed that most teachers and principals are supporting the ongoing trade union actions due to various forms of pressure and called on teachers to call 118 or 119 if they are threatened by someone for not supporting these actions.

However, speaking to The Morning recently, Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) President Priyantha Fernando claimed that a number of incidents have been reported of Police officers in civil attire visiting the homes of teachers and principals involved in the ongoing trade union actions to collect information.

“The Government is now intimidating those involved in the union actions in various ways. There have been reports of Police officers in civil attire going to homes and collecting information from teachers and principals in a number of areas such as Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, and Kantale. It also amounts to intimidation,” he noted.

Weerasekera and Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nihal Thalduwa were not available for comment on the matter.