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Monday, November 30, 2020

University dons threaten indefinite strike

University teachers last night announced an indefinite strike if the government presented the ‘private university bill’ to Parliament without consulting them.  The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) had taken this decision at its Annual General Meeting held at the Nawala Open University on Friday, FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri said.

He said that through their sources they had learnt that Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake would present the new bill in the house shortly.

“We had two rounds of discussion within this month with ministry officials, including Minister Dissanayake,” Dr Devasiri said adding that in every discussion they promised to have a wide discussion on the new bill.

The FUTA President, however said that the Ministry had yet to show them the draft bill.

The FUTA temporarily suspended its trade union action in July 2011 on the undertaking given by the government to grant their demands through the budget but President Mahinda Rajapaksa broken his promise himself, he said.

The senior academic said that they launched their agitation this time with the major demand being the abolishing of the private university bill and they could resume their suspended trade union action anytime.

He said that they had informed their branches countrywide universities to be prepare the membership for a continuous strike.

“Nearly 80% of university teachers are our members,” Dr. Devasiri said adding there were around 5000 university teachers in the country.

Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake said in a media briefing last week they were consulting all the stakeholders before taking the new bill to parliament.

“We already discussed it with Minister Wimal Weerawansa and the National Freedom Front and Minister Champika Ranawaka and the Jathika Hela Urumaya,” he said.

Dissanayake said that they had discussion with university teachers and would collect their opinion before presenting it to parliament.

by Dasun Edirisinghe
IS

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