Sunday, July 8, 2012

Strike successful despite intimidation – FUTA Head

  •, Written by  Sandun Jayawardana
  • Sunday, 08 July 2012 00:39

  • The strike launched by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) was proceeding successfully despite the efforts of some vice-chancellors and other parties to intimidate lecturers, claimed FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri.
    Speaking to The Nation, Devasiri said all universities except the Kelaniya and Uva Wellassa Universities had joined in the strike. He said that the Kelaniya University lecturers would also join the strike by Wednesday (11) after they hold their general meeting.
    “However, the Uva-Wellassa University is unlikely to join, as it does not have FUTA membership, though lecturers there have indicated their willingness to support the strike,” Devasiri said. He alleged junior lecturers at the Uva-Wellassa University were being subjected to severe intimidation by authorities, but claimed they were still supporting FUTA’s actions.
    “Some lecturers at Uva-Wellassa have asked us if they could obtain FUTA membership individually. However, this is not possible. The only way for them to obtain membership is to form a trade union within the university. Then they can obtain FUTA membership collectively, and we can protect them in case of intimidation,” he stated.
    Devasiri claimed junior lecturers at the University of Visual and Performing Arts had also been subjected to intimidation.
    FUTA representatives are to hold another meeting with Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga next week in a bid to resolve their issues. However, Devasiri emphasized that the government should come up with “something concrete” for them to consider calling off their trade union action. “They need to seriously address our concerns,” he stressed.
    The federation’s main demands include a 6% allocation of the GDP on education, a salary hike for university lecturers, and the establishment of Sri Lanka University Academic Service (SLUAS).  
    Devasiri said he too had been subjected to intimidation by anonymous callers threatening him to halt the strike. Some men claiming to be from the Defence Ministry had even inquired from neighbors about his daughter’s movements, he claimed. “I have lodged complaints with the police on these threats,” he added.
    However, he emphasized the strike would continue despite intimidation. 

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