Once Bitten Twice Shy: Railway Unions This Time Announce Their Strike Action One Week ahead

Railway trade unions today announced that they would launch a strike from the midnight of August 29. 

The railway unions launched an unannounced strike a few weeks ago, enraged railway passenger assaulted several strikers and staged a protest opposite the Fort railway station. 

This time, however, the unions announced their action one week ahead and stated the government still had time to look into their grievances. 

Their demand is to resolve salary anomalies in the railway sector. Their demands, if met, will ensure salary hikes for many railway workers. 

Amid increasing demands from the railway sector to increase their salaries, the government has gazetted the names of the members of the Special Salaries Commission appointed to look into salaries of all state sector employees. 

The commission is chaired by S. Ranugge, a senior official in the administrative service. 

K.L.L Wijeratne, T.P Kollure, C.P. Siriwardena, Sudharma Karunaratne, Janaka Sugathadasa, Dharani Wijethilake, Lalith R. de Silva, G.S. Edirisinghe, A.R. Deshapriya, B.P.S. Abeygunawardena, Palitha Abeykoon, P. Thangamayil, S.D. Jayakody, M.C. Wickremasekera are other members of the commission. 

Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera have stated that no salary hike will be given to any sector in the state service before the final report of the commission, which is due in two months. 

The Finance and Media Minister's statement, however, contravenes the promise given by President Maithripala Sirisena to railway trade unions last week in Polonnaruwa. President Sirisena pledged to resolve their salary issues and it was based on his promise that railway unions called off the strike. 

Therefore, railway unions previously stated that they would give time to the government until Thursday to address their grievances. If not, the unions added, they would resort to another island wide strike.

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