Saturday, January 14, 2012

FUTA vows to go ahead with strike despite fruitful talks

The Island, January 13, 2012, 9:42 pm 
by Dasun Edirisinghe

University teachers, who met officials of the Higher Education Ministry last evening, for about three hours, to discuss outstanding issues, expressed satisfaction at the outcome but said they would go ahead with the scheduled token strike on January 17.

President of the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri said that the ministry officials accepted their demands, including a wide ranging discussion on ‘the private university bill’.

"However, we will go ahead with our scheduled trade union action on Tuesday," he said adding that they would reverse their decision only if an assurance was given by the minister that it would be withdrawn.

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake did not attend the meeting as earlier scheduled but Higher Education Secretary Dr. Sunil Jayantha Navaratne chaired the meeting, which was attended by seven FUTA officials, at the Higher Education Ministry auditorium.

Dr. Devasiri said that ministry officials agreed to discuss the proposed bill and the FUTA proposal to discuss it with all stakeholders including university teachers, experts, parents, undergraduates, etc.

The ministry officials also agreed to other demands such as increasing salaries of university teachers according to earlier accepted methodology and allocating six per cent from the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the higher education sector.

However, they agreed to discuss further the private university bill and FUTA demanded that the proposed bill be withheld until the discussions were over, Dr. Devasiri said.

When contacted by The Island, Higher Education Secretary Dr. Navaratne too said that the discussions were fruitful and the next meeting would be held on January 20.

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