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CP pledges solidarity with principals, teachers; condemns threats



General Secretary, Communist Party of Sri Lanka Dr. G. Weerasinghe yesterday strongly condemned threats issued to striking principals and teachers.

The following is the text of the statement issued by Dr. Weerasinghe yesterday: “The struggle against principal-teacher salary anomalies, which has dragged on for the past few months, has come to a kind of peaceful halt.

On October 18, the teacher-principal leaders announced that they would report to work from October 25. They further stated that they are taking this step with the future of the nation in mind and that the struggle will continue in other guises after the commencement of schools.

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka commends and honour the leaders of the Teachers ‘and Principals’ Unions for their broad vision and commitment to the future of the sons and daughters of the nation.

However, the government has announced that schools with less than 200 children will start on October 21. In this sense, there is a consensus on the possibility of resuming schools.

Meanwhile, some parties seem to be working to destroy the growing positive and optimistic background about school education by making provocative statements. More than threats of salary suspensions or disciplinary action, the government and its various levels of officials and the principal-teacher community need to work together to revive the school education process.

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka strongly condemns all kinds of threatening statements aimed at principals and teachers.

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka has worked with it from the beginning of this struggle. Given the current situation, our party submitted the following proposals to the Government and other relevant parties in early August;

1. The Government must acknowledge that principals and teachers are subject to clear salary anomalies and that this needs to be rectified.

2. However, due to the various salary increases that have taken place in the public service from time to time over the years, there have been wage disparities in the entire public service. The most optimal course of action in this situation is to appoint a new Pay Commission with a view to eliminating those anomalies in the entire public service and to complete its work within a reasonable period of time.

3. An interim allowance shall be paid to the Principals and the teaching staff until the completion of the work of such Commission.

Despite the government announcing some pay rises in the interim, the relevant unions have stated that the principal-teacher community will continue to fight until justice is done for them.

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka will continue to struggle with the principal-teacher community and the trade unions that lead them.

Victory to the struggle of the Principals and teaching community for a fair salary!

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Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?



By Ifham Nizam

Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.

Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).

Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.

Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

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UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military



By Shamindra Ferdinnado

Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”

The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.

The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.

Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.

UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.

Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.

Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss

Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.

Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.

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JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province



Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.

The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.

The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.

President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.

“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.

“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”

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