Sunday, October 14, 2012

FUTA still not done with its struggle

University academics would continue to engage with the government till their demands were met even though they called off trade union action, the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) yesterday said.
However, FUTA warned the government that it expected the authorities to deliver on their promises within a specific timeframe to prevent its trade union action being renewed.
FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said they expected to meet certain demands in the coming days and weeks. “For example, we expect the withdrawal of the circulars that impede the work of university lecturers by next week, while the appointment of the special committee that was agreed to would be formed within two weeks,” he told The Nation.
Regarding the lecturers’ salary issue, Dr. Dewasiri said, “FUTA expects the issue to be addressed in the forthcoming budget”.
Addressing allegations that FUTA had backed down in its struggle, FUTA president said a trade union action “cannot go on forever” and there must be a compromise in the end. “The relative agreement depends on bargaining strength of relevant parties,” he stressed. Dr. Dewasiri said FUTA knew at the onset of its struggle that the demand to allocate 6% of the GDP for education would be difficult to force on the government. “However, by taking this slogan to the public we have managed to force the government to take the issue seriously, and it is a victory for us,” he claimed.
Dr. Dewasiri said there were “two dimensions” to FUTA’s struggle, something which most people seemed confused about.
“The trade union action is one dimension of our struggle. The second dimension is the mass campaign. While the trade union action has ended, the mass campaign has not. Our active members want us to continue with the campaign so that these issues are not forgotten,” he emphasised.

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